Bangladesh has reported 14 more deaths due to coronavirus and registered a record 887 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 14,657, officials said on Sunday.
"Fourteen more COVID-19 patients died in the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll from the pandemic to 228," Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Additional Director General Nasima Sultana said.
Addressing a virtual press conference, she said the tally of coronavirus infections climbed to 14,657 after 887 new COVID-19 cases were detected, marking the biggest spike in a 24-hour count.
She said the fresh cases were detected after examining 5,738 samples at 36 authorized laboratories across the country during the period.
Sultana, however, said the recovery count rose to 2,650 in the last 24 hours after 236 patients were discharged from hospitals.
Bangladesh confirmed the first coronavirus death on March 18, ten days after the detection of the first COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, health experts predicted the 3rd week of May to be the peak COVID-19 infection period in Bangladesh and expected the number of cases to come down largely by the end of June.
"Our team forecasts the third week of May to be the peak time when COVID-19 cases may exceed 50,000," said Dr Shah Monir Hossain, a member of a government-formed health experts team to analyze the pandemic trend in Bangladesh.
Hossain, a former DGHS director general and member of the eight-member committee, said that according to their analysis the peak period would continue until first week of June before showing a downward trend.
"A sharp fall (of COVID-19 cases) could be expected by the end of June," he said, explaining the analysis, based on mathematical methods and epidemiological formulas.
DGHS Director General Prof. Abul Kalam Azad echoed the committee's forecast but said even after late June "we will have to wait for some more time to get rid of the pandemic entirely."
He said that the government has set a target of testing 10,000 samples per day to detect COVID-19 cases while so far the highest 5,867 samples were examined in a single day in 33 PCR labs across the country.
"We are collecting samples from door-to-door...we will intensify the process engaging the non-government and private sector, we'll intensify the process (of collecting samples) widening testing facilities for quick confirmation of the deadly disease," Azad said.
Asked what might have caused the COVID-19 spike after an apparent lull, Azad attributed it to relaxed shutdown and people's movement largely ignoring calls for cautions including social distancing.
He said the situation was "alarming" and sought tougher government interventions to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
Bangladesh must follow three preventive measures -- people must wear masks, wash hands and strictly maintain physical distance, Hossain said.
The government earlier this week relaxed a ban on mosque congregations for daily prayers setting conditions for enforcement of health guidelines to prevent COVID-19 spread.
The Bangladesh government has extended the lockdown until May 16. The government has also decided to close all the educational institutions in the country until May 30.