Bangladesh: Aid workers battle to help Covid patients as Delta variant wreaks havoc

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports on the rising Covid crisis facing Bangladesh

When the Delta virus took hold in India, just across the Padma River in Rajshahi, they knew it was only a matter of time.

And now, as Bangladesh enters an extend lockdown, this city finds itself at the epicentre of an outbreak the country is struggling to contain.

With the emergency services overwhelmed, every day this Red Crescent team is responding to more desperate calls for help.

Credit: ITV News

The variant has run rampant through the border villages in this part of Bangladesh and they try to reach as many patients as possible.

They’ve been getting up to 60 calls a day but can only respond to around 10.

We filmed with them as they reached Parama Ghosh. 

A home test confirmed Sanjid has the virus and for four days his breathing and fever have been getting worse.

The 64-year-old was checked over and then taken away in the ambulance for life-saving treatment.

The infection rate in Rajshahi has been as high as 50%, it is highly populated, and under resourced.

Volunteer teams have also stepped in to distribute oxygen. With hospitals beyond capacity, they are attempting critical care in the community.

That also includes delivering food. Tens of thousands of families who have lost their source of income are being provided with cooked meals and other provisions. 

'Many times, despite our best efforts, we're unable to save patients'

The government has responded by securing vaccines from Russia, China, the EU and the US.

Supplies from India were suspended when the country suffered its recent surge in cases, and deaths.

Currently only three per cent of the Bangladesh population have been fully immunised.

From August 7 an urgent vaccine program will begin with the aim to get 10 million doses administered by the end of the month.

Asia Editor Debi Edward reports on the concerning infection rates in countries near to Bangladesh

They are yet to reach the peak of this wave, and that means no let up for the Red Cross team.

It’s hoped a new lockdown, and an urgent effort to get people vaccinated, will spare Bangladesh from a complete Delta disaster.

The country is in a race between the virus and the vaccine.