Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday urged all to stand by people shunning political differences to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country.
"I urge all political parties, including BNP, to combat the deadly coronavirus disease… It will be unfortunate, if anyone does politics over the COVID-19," he said.
The minister made the call at a press briefing after exchanging views with the officials of Bangladesh Television in Chattogram.
General Manager of BTV, Chattogram centre Nitai Kumar Bhattachariya presided over the discussion while Bureau Chief of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) Kalim Sarwar, Editor of Ekushey Patrika Azad Talukdar and General Secretary of Chattogram TV Journalists Association (CTJA) Latia Ansari Runa, among others, were present on the occasion.
Urging all not to spread rumors over coronavirus, Hasan said all agencies concerned have been asked to identify those who are involved with spreading rumors. He said the government is committed to take stern actions against those who are involved in spreading rumors over COVID-19 to create panic among people.
The information minister said BNP is creating confusion, capitalising on the situation to misguide people.
The health ministry and all departments concerned are working sincerely to make people aware of the deadly virus through disseminating necessary information, he added.
Hasan, also the joint general secretary of ruling Awami League, said the government has taken all adequate measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. "We have cancelled various programmes on the Mujib year to protect people from getting infected," he added.
BNP is resorting to falsehood on coronavirus situation and the initiatives taken by the government to tackle the deadly virus, he added.
"The government will take stern action against rumour-mongers…. I urge people not to be panicked as the government has directed all departments concerned to get prepared for successfully handling the disease," the information minister assured.
Refuting the allegation of BNP leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi that the government failed to contain the virus, the minister said despite having better healthcare facilities, countries across the world are struggling to contain its spread.
"Bangladesh has taken various steps and the situation in our country is still better than many other countries," he added. Already, more than 167 countries have been infected with the disease, he said.
He added, "We have learned from the media that there has been some progress in inventing coronavirus prevention vaccine."
After this government assumed power in 1996, one hour programme of the Chattogram centre increased to three hours, but these programmes could not be viewed in other parts of the country.
Turning his attention towards BTV, Chattogram, he said the Chattogram centre will be upgraded to a terrestrial service very soon.
"Procurement of equipment in this regard is underway. BTV Chattogram centre will start as a full-fledged terrestrial channel within six months, which is now being operated as a satellite channel," he added.
"Gradually, it has been transformed to a full-fledged television station. We will also launch commercial and English news programmes from here soon," he added.
Some short and long-term plans, including building another studio and auditorium, have also been taken, the minister said.