Bangladesh reports zero Covid-19 deaths for first time in 20 months

DHAKA, 21 Nov 2021: 

Bangladesh health authorities yesterday reported no Covid-19 deaths for the first time in the nearly 20 months since the start of the pandemic.

The last time there were zero deaths in a 24-hour period was on 3 April 2020.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) of Bangladesh said, however, that 178 new cases were detected among the 15,107 people tested at different health facilities across the country.

Bangladesh has recorded a total of 15.7 million Covid-19 cases and 27,964 deaths since March 2020.

The country witnessed a spike in infections in May, driven by the highly infectious delta variant of the virus. It prompted authorities to issue a raft of restrictions culminating in a national lockdown in July. These measures were repealed as the infection rate dropped in late August.

Experts have warned against complacency, saying a fresh wave of the coronavirus could hit the country unless health guidelines are followed.

“Today we have zero deaths, which is good for our morale in the fight against Covid-19,” said Nazrul Islam, a virologist.

“But we should not get carried away. We must continue vaccinating people and follow other health guidelines,” the member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 added.

Over 53 million residents have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Nov 18 while over 34 million have received a second dose, according to DGHS data.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Europe could witness another 500,000 Covid-19 deaths by March next year unless urgent action is taken, as cases surge across much of the continent amid protests against coronavirus restrictions in Austria and the Netherlands.

Hans Kluge, the head of WHO Europe, told the BBC in an interview that face mask use could help stem soaring infection rates.

The stark warning came as a number of European nations – like Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic – continued to register a record number of daily Covid-19 cases.

Around 40,000 people in Austria protested against Covid-19 restrictions yesterday, a day after the country’s government announced a 20-day nationwide lockdown starting tomorrow and compulsory vaccines from February 2022.

The protests were called by the far-right Freedom Party of Austria. Its leader Herbert Kickl – who was unable to attend after testing positive for Covid-19 – tweeted the protest showed that the desire to be “free” was stronger than “repression.”

Austrian health authorities on Friday reported a daily record of 15,800 cases. The Alpine country has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe as jab uptake has plateaued at around 65.7%.

German officials are also beefing up restrictions as cases soar, knocking down one daily record after another. Authorities there yesterday registered almost 64,000 new cases and 248 deaths in 24 hours.