Bangladesh lost 26 more lives to Covid-19, including nine in Dhaka and seven in Chattogram divisions, in the past 24 hours until Friday morning as Eid celebrations were underway with a dampened spirit due to the pandemic.
The latest number – lowest in 51 days – took the country's Covid-related death count to 12,102 as it celebrated another Eid-ul-Fitr with masks and prayers. Bangladesh saw 31 Covid deaths on Thursday, 40 on Wednesday and 33 on Tuesday.
However, the mortality rate remained unchanged at 1.55%, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.
Bangladesh also confirmed 779,535 Covid-19 cases with 848 people coming out positive in 7,835 tests over the same period.
The daily infection rate rose to 10.82% from Wednesday's 7.45%, while the recovery rate stood at 92.42%.
Bangladesh has so far carried out 5,698,528 tests since the first cases of Covid-19 emerged in the country on March 8 last year and the first fatality from the virus on the 18th of the month.
The country reported 25 Covid-19 fatalities on March 24 and the toll continued to go upward since then. It experienced a surge in cases in April and the daily count fell below 2,000 in early May.
However, Bangladesh has been seeing below 60 daily deaths for a week after recording over 100 fatalities on several occasions in April.
Another lockdown extension looms
The nationwide lockdown, imposed on April 5 to break the chain of Covid-19 infections and fatalities, has been extended several times to limit public movement or contain the surge in daily infections.
The ongoing lockdown, set to end on May 16, is likely to be extended by yet another week to keep close tabs on the situation as a mass exodus from the cities before Eid-ul-Fitr has stoked fears of a third wave of infections.
The lockdown measures fell flat as tens of thousands of people left Dhaka and other cities to join their families in home villages to celebrate Eid, despite stark warnings that the exodus could worsen the country's coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s health authorities expressed concerns that the mass travel will spread the coronavirus and reverse a recent hard-won decline in cases following weeks of nationwide lockdown.
At least five people died and 50 others injured Wednesday in a stampede as thousands of people returned to their native villages from Dhaka and other cities for Eid-ul-Fitr, defying Covid-19 restrictions.
Another Eid celebration robbed of by pandemic
Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr in a dull mood for a second year Thursday and Friday as coronavirus restrictions cast shadows over the festival's mass gatherings and family reunions.
Many Covid-hit countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, imposed curbs, shut shops and even some mosques.
Earlier, Bangladeshi authorities urged everyone not to congregate to offer special prayers for the festival Friday and instead pray in phases at local mosques while following health guidelines.
In Dhaka, devotees attended the first congregation of Eid-ul-Fitr prayer at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque. Four congregations took place there until 10:15am.
'Variant of concern'
The new Indian variant of coronavirus has been detected in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, prompting authorities to axe travel corridors with India. The World Health Organization has designated it a variant of concern that might be more contagious than most versions of the coronavirus.
In Bangladesh, the South African variant is "widely present" and the UK variant has also been detected.
Viruses mutate constantly, and an upsurge in infections in a country could result in more opportunities for new versions to emerge.
In late January, countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka started receiving vaccine doses through donations from India and other countries and commercial deals.
Bangladesh launched its vaccination drive on February 7 with Oxford-AstraZeneca doses purchased from India's Serum Institute.
The government signed an agreement with Serum for 30 million doses. But India temporarily halted exports of vaccines on March 24 to prioritise domestic requirements, following an explosion in Covid cases and fatalities in the country. The move has left the region with a serious shortage of vaccines.
The administering of the first dose in Bangladesh has remained suspended since April 26. Also, the country, the prime recipient of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, has suspended the registration for Covid-19 jabs due to vaccine shortage amid a delay in the timely arrival of shipments from India.
5 lakh Chinese vaccine doses arrive
Bangladesh on Wednesday received 5 lakh doses of China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine as a gift.
The development came after the WHO listed the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use, giving a nod for it to be rolled out globally.
Bangladesh was initially reluctant to receive the Chinese vaccine until it got the WHO green signal but the second wave of the pandemic forced the country's health authorities to approve the jabs alongside Russia's Sputnik vaccine to continue its vaccination drive.