Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today issued a call asking everyone to strictly follow health guidelines to face Covid-19 pandemic's ongoing second wave. She also reassured the nation that her government will remain beside the people.
"You (people) have no reason to panic. The government always remains beside you," she said in a televised address to the nation on the eve of the Bengali New Year 1428.
The premier also added that every individual has the responsibility to ensure his or her own protection alongside their family members and neighbours and urged all to strictly maintain the protocols developed to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
She said the surge of Covid-19 infections forced her government to impose some stricter restrictions in line with expert opinions as previous measures proved inadequate in preventing the Covid-19 spread.
The premier acknowledged that the restrictions could affect livelihoods of many people but said "we all have to keep in mind — human life is above everything".
"Avoid crowds, use masks whenever you go outdoors and clean up on your return home and inhale hot water vapour," she said.
She said the government took steps in terms of financial allocations and infrastructural mechanisms in preventing the pandemic's spread, treating Covid-19 patients and bringing poor people under the social safety net.
The premier said medical facilities were expanded in Dhaka and every other district to treat coronavirus patients and steps were taken to ensure undisrupted oxygen supply to COVID-19 designated government hospitals while work is underway to increase ICU facilities there.
Sheikh Hasina said her government allocated Tk 807.65 crore to generate employment in rural areas and Tk 672 crore for the holy Ramadan and upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr to help 1,24,42,000 lower-income families.
She said the allocations will widen social safety net coverage that included VGF and test relief which were introduced since the onset of Covid-19 last year.
The Prime Minister assured the countrymen that the target population would be brought under the vaccination programme as the scientists by now developed several vaccine types including that of Oxford-AstraZeneca to fight the Covid-19.
"In phases we will vaccinate all the people as we have the preparation," she said adding that by now the government procured a significant number of doses since its invention.
Sheikh Hasina said as many as 56 lakh people have received the first dose of the vaccine and many have started receiving the second doses as well.
The Premier also reminded all to follow the health guidelines strictly as experts could not ensure effectiveness of vaccination in every single case and therefore "we have to follow the health protocols even after taking the vaccine for Covid-19".
She said her government issued an 18-point directive to fight the Covid-19, adding, "InshaAllah, we will definitely be able to control the coronavirus if we maintain the health guidelines".
The premier greeted everyone at home and abroad on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh, the first Day of Bangla calendar, saying — "Shubho Noboborsho" and also greeted all Muslims at the advent of the holy Ramadan.
She urged everyone to celebrate the Pahela Baishakh festival at their own homes with their families unlike the usual manner.
"So, we will enjoy the Pahela Baishakh staying at home as we did last year. We can enjoy the programmes on television channels and digital media and we can also enjoy the moment with our family members at home," she added.
Mentioning that the government had enforced a nonstop 62-day-long general holiday last year, the prime minister said reopening of educational institutions is yet to happen alongside reestablishment of normal movement with foreign countries.
"Not only is Bangladesh facing this unwanted situation, all countries of the world are also witnessing the surge of coronavirus infection and are being forced to take such measures," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is maintaining strong vigilance to protect human lives alongside keeping the country's economy and people's livelihood rolling.
"We've been able to tackle the impacts of the pandemic successfully last year because of taking some timely measures with cooperation of all," she noted.
The prime minister also highlighted four main principles adopted by her government to combat the possible adverse impacts of coronavirus on the economy.
These are: increase of government's expenditure; prioritising 'employment generation' for this expenditure; formulation of financial assistance packages; revitalising economic activities, keeping the labourers and workers engage in works and upholding the competition efficiency of entrepreneurs; expansion of social safety net programmes to meet the basic necessity of the people living under poverty line, day labourers and the people involved with non-institutional activities; and raise the money supply keeping inflation under control, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is implementing its programmes in line with the four principles and has already announced a total of 23 stimulus packages of Tk 124,053 crore alongside taking initiative of maintaining uninterrupted output in the factories and boosting agriculture production.
Besides, a total of nearly 2.5 crore people including day labourers, transport workers, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, school and madrasa teachers, students, Imams and Muazzin along with people of other religious organisations, journalists and other low-income people have been brought under the government's assistance, she said.
"Overcoming all the hurdles, we'll have to march forward," she added.