Bangladesh reduces physical presence of employees in workplace to 50% to curb COVID

The government has ordered all offices to operate with the physical presence of 50 percent employees, starting on Monday, as part of its efforts to control rising coronavirus infections.

The order will be effective for all government, semi-government, autonomous, and private offices, the Cabinet Division said on Sunday. The order will remain in force until Feb 6.

It said the employees physically present in offices must follow health rules.

The others cannot leave the areas where they are posted and they will have to work virtually from home by using electronic filing and tendering systems, email, SMS, WhatsApp and other services.

The Supreme Court will issue orders on the operation of courts, while the Bangladesh Bank will guide banks, insurers and financial institutions.

The government on Friday shut all schools and colleges across the country for two weeks as infections increased among children amid the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

It banned gatherings of more than 100 people at all sorts of events. People must also present a vaccination certificate or results of negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of attendance.

Government and private company employees must take vaccines and show the jab certificates at work.

Wearing a mask will be mandatory at public places, including markets, shopping malls, mosques, bus stops, launch jetties and rail stations.

Despite the government imposing strict restrictions, people did not follow them, which led the virus to spread further, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said after the school closure and other measures were announced.

Bangladesh on Sunday reported 10,906 new coronavirus cases in a day, the highest daily count since Aug 10 last year, taking the total caseload to 1,685,136.

As many as 34,854 samples were tested across the country, for a positivity rate of 31.29 percent - the highest in about half a year.

The death toll rose to 28,223 as 14 more patients died from COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8am on Sunday.