On the day that Bangladesh received news of its biggest loss of life in a day yet to the novel coronavirus, there was some good news as well, in that a group of researchers led by the father-daughter duo working out of the Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) has successfully sequenced the genome of the strain that came into the country. A team of eight CHRF researchers, led by Dr Sejuti Saha, daughter of Dr Samir Saha, worked on mapping the genome sequence.
The most important information from the viral genome sequence at this moment will be identification of particular viral strains that are prevalent in our country, identify infection hotspots or super-spreaders and formulate strategies for public health intervention. Dr Sharif Akhteruzzaman of the Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Dhaka University wrote that changes in the genetic sequence of the viral genomes collected from several patients will allow the monitoring of the spread of the disease within the country and between populations over time.
It came on the same day that the country reported the highest-ever jump in coronavirus cases in a single day as the health authorities confirmed the detection of 1,162 new patients in the previous 24 hours, raising the total cases to 17,822, as well as the highest number of deaths in a single day, as 19 lives were lost. At a time when most governments around the world are grappling with the issue of reopening their economies, and some that already have are reporting sudden spikes in the number of cases, including in Wuhan, China where it all began, it underlines the importance of treading carefully as the world still lacks the important pharmaceutical interventions that will ultimately be necessary in the fight against COVID-19.
The worst possible outcome would be to open up too soon, allowing for a second wave of infections that forces countries into lockdown mode once again, thus undoing all of the gains that have been made by the sacrifices made by the people during the initial lockdown. As the government is still ramping up its testing infrastructure, we are told by the end of the month it will be possible to test upto 10,000 samples a day using the gold-standard rt-PCR method. If, as expected, that continues to show a rise in the number infected, what sort of strategic might that force upon the authorities? It all calls for treading the waters very carefully on the part of the government, to steer the country as best as possible through this unforeseen storm.
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