State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain says they are all set to do it whenever needed
As the coronavirus pandemic keeps worsening in the country, the government claims to be all set to announce a nationwide complete shutdown to help stop the transmission of Covid-19.
State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain on Thursday evening told the media that the authorities might impose the shutdown any time, the move being tougher than that of last year.
Earlier in the day, the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 recommended imposing what it called a nationwide shutdown for two weeks.
The government panel proffered the advice at its meeting on Wednesday night, according to a statement issued by NTAC chief Prof Mohammad Shahidullah issued on Thursday afternoon.
Even though the press release did not clarify what shutdown referred to, Prof Dr Shahidullah said it meant a strict lockdown when no offices, except for emergency services, would be allowed to operate.
The recommendation has been made as the pool of experts are convinced that the worsening situation cannot be controlled without a nationwide shutdown.
Later in the day, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told the media that the government was observing the situation and working accordingly.
“We have taken necessary preparations as we are assuming that we need to take such measures onwards,” he added, hinting at the calls for shutdown.
The state minister said a lockdown had already been imposed in seven districts around and near Dhaka with the situation steadily deteriorating in the border areas.
“So, the government is ready to reach a decision any time. We’re observing the situation closely and the shutdown may be imposed more strictly than it was last year,” the state minister said.
Bangladesh is experiencing an increase in the Covid-19 infection rate, with the latest report of the World Health Organization (WHO) noting that 43 districts of the country were at very high risk while 15 others, including Dhaka, were at high risk.
Only six of the districts, including two adjoining Dhaka, are at medium risk.
The country recorded 6,058 new Covid-19 cases and 81 deaths from the deadly disease in the 24 hours till Thursday morning.
Findings of the NTAC
The new Delta variant of the coronavirus is much more transmissible than the previous variants, says the NTAC statement.
After analyzing data from the Directorate General of Health Services it was seen that more than 50 districts have very high infection rates, it said, adding that the restrictions enforced in different parts of the country had not been fruitful.
The advisors consulted experts in India and found that the infection rate had been under control only in the areas where a full shutdown was enforced, a factor which prompted the recommendation for a two-week nationwide shutdown.
The committee also urged everyone aged above 80 to get vaccinated and thanked the prime minister for her efforts to collect vaccines from various sources.
In order to contain the deadly disease, 80% of the country’s population need to be inoculated, the panel of experts suggested.
NTAC Member Prof Dr Nazrul Islam said that the restrictions -- be it named lockdown or shutdown -- should be imposed strictly.
“The district- and upazila-level hospitals, he insisted, should have been prepared by now.
He feared that there might be dire consequences for the country now.