Coronavirus panic spreads as 2 of a family die from fever in Munshiganj

  • Munshiganj Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-01-27 21:45:01 BdST


A woman and her nephew have died from fever within 16 hours of each other in Munshiganj's Louhajang Upazila, sparking fears of an outbreak of a novel coronavirus which originated in China.

But health officials have preliminarily ruled out the deadly virus as the cause of their deaths, according to the district's Civil Surgeon Dr Abul Kalam Azam.

A probe panel has been formed to look into the matter.

It came after Mir Abdur Rahman, a 3-year-old boy from the Upazila's Jasaldia village, died an hour after being struck by a fever in the early hours of Monday. His aunt Shamima Begum, 34, died in similar at 8 am on Sunday. 

According to Shamima's brother-in-law Mir Shiblu, she had been feeling feverish on the morning of her death. The fever gradually intensified and blood clots began appearing on different parts of her body before she died. 

Abdur began showing the same symptoms shortly after contracting a fever at night, said Shiblu. Although Shamima had been buried without an autopsy, the family took Abdur to the Upazila Health Complex for a check-up.

Later, a medical team and officials from the local administration along with a representative of the World Health Organisation visited the village for an inspection on Monday.

After the outbreak of the coronavirus in China's Wuhan, authorities have stepped up precautionary measures at airports in Bangladesh with travellers from China being screened on arrival, said Civil Surgeon Abul. Bangladesh is yet to confirm any case of the virus.

"None of their family members have gone or returned from abroad in the last 14 days. Therefore, the initial belief is that their deaths were not caused by the coronavirus. Besides, their deaths can't be attributed to the Nipah virus either as no one in the family consumed any date juice recently."

The total number of confirmed cases of the virus in China has risen to 2,744, about half of them in Hubei province, whose capital is Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak.

As worries grew around the world, Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, which has had eight confirmed cases, banned entry to people who had visited Hubei in the past 14 days. The ban did not cover Hong Kong residents.

The number of deaths from the flu-like virus in Hubei climbed to 76 from 56, health officials said, with five deaths elsewhere in China, including the southern island province of Hainan, which reported its first fatality on Monday.

While a small number of cases have been confirmed in more than 10 countries, linked to people who travelled from Wuhan, no deaths have been reported elsewhere.