All offices, factories and transport services will be suspended; only emergency services will remain open
The Bangladesh government is going to enforce a week-long hard lockdown across the country starting from April 14, aimed at curbing Covid-19 transmission, since the existing lockdown has proven to be ineffective in ensuring full implementation of health safety rules.
During this lockdown, all government and private offices, factories and industries - including the ready-made garment (RMG) ones - and transport services will remain closed, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said on Friday, according to media reports.
Only the emergency services will remain open during the hard lockdown.
A gazette notification in this regard will be issued on Sunday, the media reports said.
This announcement comes only hours after Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the government was considering options to enforce an all-out lockdown for one week, starting from April 14, and just one day after the prime minister hinted at going for stricter measures to save people's lives.
"The strict lockdown is being enforced per the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. There is no alternative to this in order to curb the Covid-19 surge," State Minister Farhad Hossain said.
“All government and non-government institutions, except for emergency services, will be closed across the country from April 14. Garment factories will be closed as well. All public transport, except for ambulance services, will remain closed during this time,” the state minister further added.
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Speaking to reporters at his official residence on Friday morning, Obaidul Quader, also the general secretary of the ruling Awami League, said the government had been considering tougher restrictions to safeguard people from the coronavirus disease as the ongoing restrictions were not being followed properly.
Meanwhile, the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) for Covid-19 response has recommended a full countrywide lockdown for two weeks in order to bring the spread of the deadly virus under control.
The committee made the recommendation at a meeting, headed by its Chairman Prof Md Sahidullah, held virtually on Wednesday night, according to a press release issued on Friday.
The meeting also concluded that although the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had issued 18 directives to stop the spread of the virus, along with few other health guidelines issued by the Cabinet Division, the number of Covid-19 cases continued to rise due to lax implementation of said directives.
The country is already under a week-long lockdown since Monday, aimed at curbing the sharp rise of Covid-19 deaths and infections as the country is going throught the second wave of the pandemic.
The government issued an 11-point directive for the lockdown, effective from April 5 to 11. However, the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela (book fair) has been exempted from the lockdown.
However, shopping malls and markets have been reopened in Dhaka amid the lockdown, in face of protests from shop owners and employees, and public transport service has been reinstated in the city in limited capacity following demands from office goers.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the government might opt for harsher measures in order to control the Covid-19 surge.
“Coronavirus has appeared as a pandemic. We are witnessing its blow. Although we have taken some measures to fight the pandemic, we might have to take tougher steps in future to save lives of the people, and we must do it,” she said at the concluding ceremony of the 71st foundation training course for fresh cadre service officers, attending the event via videoconference.
Bangladesh has been seeing a steep rise in Covid-19 deaths and infections in the last few weeks, with the highest ever single-day death tally and caseload recorded in the country in the past couple of days.
On Thursday, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) recorded the highest number of single-day Covid-19 deaths, with 74 people dying of the deadly disease in 24 hours. The day before, the country logged the highest ever number of new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours - 7, 626.
On Friday, the DGHS reported 63 new deaths and 7,462 fresh cases of Covid-19 reported between Thursday and Friday morning. The latest single-day test-positivity rate was reported at 23.57%.
With the latest tally, the total death toll due to Covid-19 in Bangladesh - since the first deaths were reported on March 18, 2020 - stands at 9,584 as of Friday morning.
Since the first detection of the disease in the country on March 8, 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases stand at 673,594, of which 568,541 have made full recovery, according to DGHS.