Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 3August : Bangladesh has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown restrictions by five days to Aug 10, as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to spike.
Stores, businesses and offices will reopen and public transport will resume on a limited scale on Aug 11. The government also said that it would push the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the coming week.
No one without a vaccine would be allowed to join work, said Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque. The minister made the remarks after a high-level meeting at the Secretariat on Tuesday on the current pandemic situation and possible next steps.
“The health ministry will administer the vaccine to over 10 million people in the coming week,” he said. “Each ward will have at least two vaccination centres. That means, we hope, that no one will have to struggle to get the vaccine.”
“Vaccines will be administered at nearly 14,000 centres throughout the week. The elderly will be prioritised. Working people, store workers and bus helpers will be given vaccines as well. No one will be allowed to go to their workplace without taking the vaccine. The meeting made the decision so that stores can reopen on Aug 11.”
“We do not know how long the pandemic will continue. We need to produce vaccines ourselves or partner with another country to do so as soon as possible. Once that is done, we can vaccinate everyone. We will try to begin producing vaccines in our country within 4-5 months. There is also a shortage of ICU beds. A dedicated ICU unit will be set up at the Bangabandhu Medical College Convention Centre from Saturday.”
Bangladesh is currently facing the worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic since it began in 2020. The new Delta variant of the virus is driving new cases and deaths on a regular basis.
To curb the spread of the disease, a nationwide lockdown was imposed from Jul 1, but was later eased for nine days around Eid-ul-Azha at the advice of experts.
The lockdown was reimposed on Jul 23, after the Eid holidays. Since then, there have been new records for cases and deaths.
Initially, the government decided that all factories, public and private institutions and offices would be closed until the lockdown ended on Aug 5.
Though the government repeatedly said that it would not ease restrictions, it eventually bowed to pressure from factory owners and decided to allow factories to reopen on Aug 1.
The Directorate General of Health Services recommended on Friday that the current lockdown be extended further.