Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina arrives to address the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 2018. Photo: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo
Dhaka: The Bangladesh government on Saturday decided to impose a week-long nationwide lockdown from Monday as COVID-19 cases and deaths surged across the country.
Road transport minister Obaidul Quader made the announcement at a media briefing in Dhaka on Saturday as the country recorded the third-highest toll in terms of both fatality and infection with 58 coronavirus deaths and 5,683 new cases overnight since the pandemic broke out in March last year.
Quader, also the general secretary of the ruling Awami League, said that the government is going to enforce a nationwide lockdown from Monday initially for a week as the spread of coronavirus increases.
State minister for public administration Farhad Hossain in a separate briefing said an official handout would be issued detailing measures to be taken under the lockdown order.
He said the government might extend the restriction if the situation continues to worsen but emergency services, kitchen markets and industrial units would remain beyond the restriction but operate strictly maintaining health guidelines.
Every office and court will be closed during this lockdown but industries and mills will continue their operation on rotation, Hossain said.
Asked why industries will not be closed, the minister said that if the mills were closed then the workers may have to leave their workstations and head for home.
Bangladesh railway and civil aviation authority said that passenger train services and domestic flights would be suspended from Monday but goods-laden trains and international flights would run as scheduled.
According to Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the country on Saturday recorded its highest ever seven-day moving average of daily COVID-19 deaths – 49.14 – since the pandemic broke out in March 2020 while the figure was 46.43 on Friday.
The DGHS said 23.15% of the 24,548 samples collected in 24 hours tested positive while the infection rate was only 2.30% on February 8 this year, when the rate started decreasing sharply.
Bangladesh had imposed a 66-day lockdown from March 26 to May 30 in 2020, when a nationwide holiday was also enforced.