Bangladesh shuts schools, colleges for two weeks as virus surges

The government has shut all schools and colleges across the country for two weeks in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus infections.

The Cabinet Division issued a notice on Friday, making the shutdown effective until Feb 6.

The decision to close universities in the pandemic has been left to the authorities of the institutions.

The coronavirus infection has become rampant, which led the government to make the decision, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said on Friday.

The audience of social, political and religious events must be no more than 100 people. Also, those participating in the gatherings will have to provide vaccination cards or COVID-negative certificates (tests must be done within 24 hours).

Government and private company employees must take vaccines and show the certificates at work. The authorities will have to enforce the new rules.

Wearing a mask will be mandatory at public places, including markets, shopping malls, mosques, bus stops, launch jetties and rail stations. People must follow the health protocols.

The local administration and law enforcement agencies have been instructed to monitor the issues.

Bangladesh reported 10,888 virus cases in a daily count on Thursday, the highest since Aug 10. The positivity rate shot past 26 percent. 

At least 33 percent of the hospital beds in Dhaka have already been occupied by COVID patients, according to the health minister.

Despite the government imposing strict restrictions, people did not follow them, which led the pathogen to spread further, Maleque said.

Even, the school students are contracting COVID-19, a development that compelled the government to make the decision.

"We had reopened the schools, but recently noticed an uptick in the virus cases in the schools and colleges. Those students are coming to hospitals for medical treatment. This is really alarming,” Maleque said.

When asked why the tourist sites, the trade fair and the eighth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) are allowed to remain open, while the educational institutes are shut, the health minister said people must carry their vaccine cards to those places, or any public gathering.

“This decision will be implemented everywhere, including the book fair, stadiums, the Dhaka trade fair and restaurants. The administration should implement it and we urge them to strictly monitor the issues.”