By: Chandrashekar Bhat
BANGLADESH is expected to extend its countrywide lockdown till May 23 to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The ongoing lockdown, in force since April 14, will end on Sunday and the government will issue a fresh order to continue the restrictions for another week, state minister for public administration Farhad Hossain said on Saturday (15).
The expectations that the people who went to their villages for Eid ul-Fitr would come back to Dhaka next week resulting in crowding has forced the administration to extend the lockdown period.
The government is also contemplating an ordinance to empower the police to enforce mask rules, according to the minister.
“After opening up…, we have to ensure that people wear masks at all (public) places. Without ensuring masks at all levels, we won’t be able to contain Covid-19,” the state minister said, adding, “if we give police the power, they will be able to carry out their job (ensure that people wear a mask) smoothly,” The Daily Star quoted him as saying.
The short supply of vaccine from India, recent crowding of people on their back home for Eid and the discovery of the Indian variant of the coronavirus have increased the chances of a further spread of the infectious disease after the lockdown is eased, officials said.
The country was forced to suspend its vaccination drive following the halt of the supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs from India as the eastern neighbour is battling an explosive growth of the virus. However, it was partly made up, with 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine provided by China as a goodwill gesture.
According to Worldometer, the country reported 848 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, taking its total to 779,535 since early last year. So far 12,102 died of the disease.