85% of hospitalised COVID patients in Bangladesh are unvaccinated: health minister

Unvaccinated people make up 85 percent of hospitalised COVID patients in Bangladesh, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said.

Most of those dying from the COVID-19 disease did not get vaccines either, the minister said on Tuesday, citing data from the Directorate General of Health Services.

Speaking to the owners of private medical colleges and hospitals virtually, he said the government hospitals are prepared to treat the COVID-19 patients.”

“But 25 percent beds of these hospitals have been occupied. If infections increase at this rate, the demand for hospital beds will rise,” the minister said, calling for private hospitals’ help to tackle the situation.

The health minister blamed people’s “overconfidence” and reluctance in following the health rules for a spike in infections. “Hundreds of thousands of people travelled to Cox’s Bazar and none wore a mask. No one is wearing a mask in transports, in the trade fair.”

COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh topped 1.7 million after over 16,000 infections were detected in the latest daily count. This is for the second time daily cases crossed the mark since the pandemic began. The daily positivity rate also jumped past 32 percent. The death toll increased by 18 in the 24 hours to 8am on Tuesday. 

Although omicron causes milder illness, Maleque fears the death toll will soon rise as the contagious variant is spreading rapidly.

Out of the 79 people who died from COVID-19 in the seven days to Monday, 51 were unvaccinated, according to the DGHS.