Bangladesh to shut offices as another virus lockdown looms

  • Senior Correspondent and Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-04-09 13:41:20 BdST

The government plans to enforce another seven-day lockdown with stricter rules from Apr 14 with the offices shut, as coronavirus cases keep surging across Bangladesh, setting daily records.

All government, semi-government and private organisations, except for emergency service providers, will be closed during the weeklong lockdown, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said on Friday.

“Everyone will be under the purview of the lockdown,” he told bdnews24.com, adding that the government will issue a notice by Sunday on the new lockdown.

Earlier, Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader revealed the new lockdown plan saying the ongoing lockdown did not change the public behaviour during the pandemic.

“The government is actively considering another lockdown as the coronavirus situation has taken an alarming turn,” Quader said at a news briefing in Dhaka.

The current lockdown will end on the midnight of Apr 11.

“The spread of coronavirus infections has become severe in Bangladesh with the cases and the death toll surging manifold. People’s negligence and indifference are increasing too,” Quader said.

“Under the circumstances, the government is pondering over the extension of lockdown for another week from Apr 14 in the public interest.”

After record 74 deaths from COVID-19 in the daily count on Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned that more stringent measures were coming.

For the ongoing lockdown that began on Apr 5 amid the soaring number of coronavirus cases and deaths, the government restricted shopping and dining at eateries along with a ban on public transports.

Offices were allowed to operate with limited presence while banking hours were cut down.

The government allowed public transport operators to resume services in city areas from 6 am to 6 pm on Wednesday given the sufferings of the commuters.

Facing protests by traders, the government also allowed stores and shopping malls to reopen from 9 am to 5 pm on Friday adhering to the health rules.

As the lax lockdown failed to show immediate results with the people largely violating the rules, the government finally decided to act tough.

The decision also came after a study found that a more contagious and deadly variant of the coronavirus first detected in South Africa has been dominating the COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh since mid-March, when the new wave of infections began.    

In the daily count on Friday, Bangladesh logged 7,462 new cases of the coronavirus, taking the tally to 673,594.

The road leading from New Market to Science Laboratory used to buzz with people and vehicles, but now the crowd is just memories. Photo: Saad Abdullah

The road leading from New Market to Science Laboratory used to buzz with people and vehicles, but now the crowd is just memories. Photo: Saad Abdullah

The death toll climbed by 63 in the 24 hours to 8 am on Friday to 9,584, according to data released by the government. 

In this situation, the National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19 recommended the enforcement of a complete lockdown for at least two weeks in the city corporation and municipality areas to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Bangladesh.

The decision to extend the ongoing shutdown should be taken after reviewing the infection rate at the end of its two-week term, the committee said in a statement.

The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has skyrocketed amid a general apathy for the 18-point directive issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and other rules set by the Cabinet Division, the statement said.

The government has taken different steps to increase the service capacity in the hospitals, according to the committee. However, the hospitals must further increase their capacity to deal with the massive influx of patients, it said.