REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Bangladesh on Wednesday confirmed another death from the novel coronavirus, taking the death toll in the country to six while the number of positive cases rose to 54 with health authorities expressing fear that community level transmission might have begun on a limited scale.

Bangladesh has extended the ongoing nationwide lockdown to April 9 to curb the spread of the deadly virus, which has claimed over 40,000 lives across the globe.

The tally of infections in Bangladesh rose to 54 after three more people tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours, said Health Minister Zahid Malik on Wednesday.     Among the infected cases, 26 have recovered and returned home, the minister told the bdnews.

“We are constantly trying to improve the quality of our healthcare services. In the meantime, we are working on setting up about 500 ventilators at government hospitals,” Zahid said in an online media briefing.

“Another 300 ventilators are being imported. There are about 700 ventilators across private hospitals,” he added.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the lockdown will be extended until April 9. She, however, said that offices and industries could resume work in a limited scale.  A director of the health services told PTI on Tuesday that defying calls for social distancing, a huge number of people on crowded buses, ferries and trains rushed to their villages as soon as the lockdown was announced on Friday last. And there are chances that the virus could spread if they return back en masse on April 4.

“The extension of the lockdown from April 4 to April 9 would helpcomplete a 14-day cycle for recovery and testing,” he said.

Prime Minister Hasina directed the officials not to hold any public programmes marking the upcoming Bengali New Year (April 14) and also asked people to scrap their new year festivities to avoid mass gatherings.