Bangladesh hit new heights with its daily COVID-19 cases and deaths as strict lockdown grips the country to contain the surge of infections.
The government's Directorate General of Health Services said 15,192 infections and 247 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total caseload to 1.18 million and death toll to 19,521 since the pandemic began in March last year.
The new record comes in line with health experts' warnings that the outbreak might worsen when the authorities relaxed the health restrictions for more than a week on July 13 to allow people to travel ahead of the Muslim celebration of Qurban Bayram, also known as Eid al-Adha, festival.
Tens of thousands of people traveled from major cities to their home villages on crowded ferries and buses before the government reimposed the lockdown for two more weeks, shutting offices, transportation, factories and shopping malls until Aug. 5.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque called the situation "most difficult" as nearly 90% of the hospital beds are occupied.
He called upon everyone to follow the health guidelines to help slow the spread of the virus.
He said the government will recruit 8,000 health workers, including 4,000 doctors, to further improve health care services and boost the coronavirus vaccination campaign nationwide.
Some 2.6% of Bangladesh's population of 160 million has so far been fully vaccinated, while 1.09% are partially vaccinated, according to statistics from Our World in Data.