Bangladesh extends lockdown to May 23, notice on Sunday

An almost deserted Bijoy Sarani shows how Dhaka experienced light traffic on the eve of Eid on Thursday, May 13, 2021 after a mass exodus despite a coronavirus lockdown. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove
The government has decided to extend the ongoing coronavirus lockdown by a week to May 23, apprehending further transmission of the disease in the wake of Eid celebrations.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the decision on Saturday, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said.  

An official notification on the lockdown will be issued on Sunday and the ongoing restrictions will remain unchanged.

An exodus of people from cities to rural areas for Eid celebrations has stoked fears of a rapid spike in coronavirus cases.

The authorities had ordered the employees of government, semi-government, autonomous and private organisations, banks and non-bank financial institutions not to leave stations during Eid holidays ending on Sunday.

The latest decision by the government is extending the nationwide pandemic restrictions beyond May 16, the last day of the current lockdown.

The government had eased the lockdown restrictions during Eid but kept long-haul passenger transport services on hold mainly to stop the outbreak from spreading to rural areas.

State Minister Farhad on Thursday said: “We can’t say what the outbreak situation will be.”

The government imposed the lockdown on Apr 5 to tackle a second wave of infections during which confirmed cases rose past 7,000 with more than 100 deaths in daily counts.

On Saturday, the number of cases in the daily count dropped to 261, the lowest in a year, after the number of tests dropped due to Eid holidays.

But the fears of another rapid rise in infections linger as the holidaymakers are expected to begin returning to the cities on Monday.   

ABM Khurshid Alam, the director general of DGHS, said on Friday that the government should do whatever necessary to delay the “dangerous” influx of people.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque last week explained why it was dangerous for the people to travel from one district to another, warning that the homebound people might carry a more infectious coronavirus variant to their family members.