Bangladesh to stringently enforce health rules to control COVID amid omicron surge

The government is going to take act tough to make people follow the coronavirus restrictions amid a surge in infection and the spread of the omicron variant.

“We will swing into action after watching the situation for one more day or maybe two. Because we don’t want to take action first. We will see whether they [people] follow [the restrictions],” Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said on Monday.

The government reimposed some restrictions, including a ban on gatherings, last week to curb a rising number of deadly COVID-19 cases.

Infections soared by around 17,000 in the past seven days, an over 230 percent rise week on week, as people appear to be oblivious to the restrictions. The government said 69 percent of the new cases in Dhaka are of the highly contagious omicron variant.

“We’ve already asked the administration and the law-enforcing agencies to watch the situation. We will try to do something after a day or two,” said Anwarul.

He also warned that people should not take omicron variant lightly because it causes less severe infections, and the deadly delta variant is still circulating in Bangladesh.

The latest study by the government’s disease control agency IEDCR showed delta was responsible for 87 percent of the infections and the rest were caused by omicron, according to him.

“If we don’t be a bit careful, we will face a disaster.”

“People must understand that if we don’t follow the community safety measures and if we don't wear masks, it will be impossible to avert it [a disaster].”