Dhaka: Bangladesh on Monday reported ten more deaths due to the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of the COVID-19 fatalities to 101, as experts warned that it was just the “tip of the iceberg” in view of the growing number of cases in the country. Also Read - Social Distancing? Bangladesh Doesn't Know it Yet; Police Officer Suspended

“The toll now stands at 101 as ten more patients died in the past 24 hours,” an official from the directorate general of health services (DHHS) said during a media briefing here on the novel coronavirus situation. Also Read - Bangladesh Hangs Ex-Army Man Abdul Majeed, Killer of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman

DGHSs Additional Director General Professor Nasima Sultana said that 2,779 COVID-19 suspects were examined in the last 24 hours and 492 were tested positive, the highest so far in a single day since the first detection of three simultaneous coronavirus cases in the country on March 8. Also Read - Imran Khan Says Pakistan Analysing COVID-19 Data of India, Bangladesh

According to the DGHS tally, the total number of the COVID-19 cases in the country has surged to 2,948.

“The situation could be just the tip of the iceberg, in view of the number of patients detected compared to the number of cases examined, another senior health official told PTI, preferring anonymity. He suggested further extension of the nationwide shutdown which is due to expire on April 25.

He said that with limited healthcare facilities and equipment including ventilators in hospitals Bangladesh could witness a severe situation if the pandemic spreads in a geometric pattern.

The official said even some developed western countries were forced to take a tough decision that the elderly COVID-19 victims will not be given ventilators to keep the life saving machine for relatively younger people.

“Unless the spread of the virus could be contained by any means, extending shutdowns and enforcing physical distancing, we will have to take identical decisions, the official said.

DGHS director Prof. Nazmul Islam Munna said Bangladesh’s existing 17 COVID-19 testing labs could examine at least 3,060 people everyday but we are yet to ensure the optimum use of these facilities though the number of cases examined was increasing everyday.

He said hectic efforts were underway as well to increase the number of such labs to 28 across Bangladesh by April end, but the social and religious leaders including public representatives at neighbourhood levels must encourage people to get them tested.

“The people should voluntarily come forward for testing whenever someone feels the virus might have infected…both motivation and compulsion can be used as tools to expose them to testing, Munna said.

The entire Bangladesh has been declared as a risky area of COVID-19 infection under the country’s Infectious Disease (Prevention, Control and Elimination) Act, 2018, according to an order issued by the directorate general of health services (DGHS) on Thursday night.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned that the country may face a massive hike in COVID-19 cases in the coming days of April.

Bangladesh has suspended prayers for the public at mosques across the country in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.