Dhaka: Bangladesh's single-day COVID-19 deaths and cases surpassed previous records on Monday with 164 more fatalities and 9,964 fresh infections, forcing the government to extend the nationwide lockdown by one more week. According to officials, the coronavirus has so far claimed 15,229 lives and infected 954,881 people in the country.
"The COVID-19 toll now stands at 15,229 with 164 (overnight) deaths as many as 9,964 people tested positive, raising the infection rate to 29.30 per cent during the 24-hour time span," Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) spokesman Professor Nazmul Islam said. According to the official data, the country witnessed the highest number of single-day deaths alongside infection cases on Monday. The previous highest toll was 153 and the number of infection cases was 8,822, recorded on July 4 and June 30 respectively.
The DGHS report came shortly after authorities ordered the extension of a seven-day nationwide "strict restrictions" until July 14 "in view of the current situation of the COVID-19 surge". "Punitive legal actions will be taken if someone comes out of home without very emergency needs during the (shutdown) period," a cabinet division statement said, adding that military troops would patrol the streets alongside police to enforce the order.
Bangladesh started witnessing the fresh surge last month when officials said the deadly Delta variant of the virus was engulfing districts bordering India. The authorities initially tried to protect Dhaka by enforcing a lockdown in seven districts surrounding the capital on June 22. However, they were forced to enforce a nationwide lockdown last week, closing all offices and businesses, ordering vehicles to stay off the roads and suspending train movements and domestic flight services.
Several health experts called the situation "extremely bad" while studies suggest the highly transmissible Delta variant is responsible for 70 per cent of the infections in Bangladesh. "The situation is worsening every day but we are yet to see the peak," national technical committee on COVID-19 and leading virologist Nazrul Islam said.
An expert study earlier said that Bangladesh was likely to witness the peak in mid-July this year.