Bangladesh extends lockdown with worsening Covid pandemic situation

By SM Najmus Sakib


DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA): Bangladesh on Tuesday extended the existing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to be effective until Aug. 10 as the prevailing situation across the country continued worsening.

The South Asian country has implemented a 14-day strict lockdown since July 23 amid surging coronavirus deaths and infections, Bangladesh Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque told the reporters following an inter-ministerial meeting on the COVID-19 situation in Dhaka.

However, amid the growing demand from the factory and shops owners association, the minister said malls, businesses, and offices will be allowed to reopen on Aug. 11 with strictly maintaining health guidelines.

The public transportation will operate with half of its seat capacity after Aug. 10, he added.

The government has a target of administering 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in just one week, with citizens aged above 18 to be eligible for vaccination as the government is planning to return to normalcy gradually from Aug. 10.

“Citizens aged over 18 will not be allowed to move on streets without being vaccinated. All shop owners will have to take vaccines by Aug. 7, 8, and 9 to reopen their shops and malls after Aug. 10,” the minister added.

Gov’t to rent hotels as hospital beds almost fully occupied

The government was considering renting hotels to extend COVID-19 treatment amid the growing demands for beds in hospitals across the country, Health Minister Zahid Maleque told the media after the inter-ministerial meeting.

“Ninety percent of general beds and 95% Incentive Care Unit (ICU) beds have already been occupied. And, to meet the demand, we are working to prepare a field hospital having 500-600 COVID beds at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka,” the minister added.

Not all COVID-19 patients require a hospital facility, so we are thinking of renting hotels for the patients with mild symptoms, while doctors, nurses, medicine, and arrangement of oxygen support will be ensured at those facilities, the minister added.

Meanwhile, over 235 people died due to the disease in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 20,397, with a rising death rate of 1.65%, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

At least 15,776 new infections were registered, nearing the caseload to 1.3 million, with a daily 28.54% positivity rate, the DGHS noted.

Amid the alarming spike in infections with the presence of the Delta variant, Bangladesh has so far inoculated only 5.17% of its 170 million population.

[Photo: Covid-19 patient lies in a vehicle outside of Chittagong Medical College Hospital as 3rd wave driven by Delta variant spreads across South Asian country with emergence of new hotspots, in Chattogram, Bangladesh on July 11, 2021. Photographer: Mohammad Shajahan/ AA]

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