Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the government-declared shutdown to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 might be extended till April 9.
"We have announced a 10-day closure, but this might be extended for 14 days. We might extend it till April 9, relaxing it for some sectors on a limited scale," she said.
The prime minister said that the essential services will remain open but educational institutions will remain closed while industries and mills can be opened.
But, she said, movement of people from one place to another should be restricted.
The PM said this while holding a video conference with government officials of 64 districts to coordinate the ongoing activities to contain coronavirus, from her official residence Gono Bhaban.
The government on March 23 declared general closure from March 26 to April 4. Kitchen markets, food shops, pharmacies, hospitals and all emergency services are out of the purview.
The prime minister said the shutdown may be extended because many people went to their villages.
"We have to count the quarantine period in this connection so that there should not be any outbreak of Covid-19," she said.
She also said that with the extension of closure, the communication system has to be open on limited scale.
The prime minister said the government has taken steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from the very beginning and for that reason there has not been many cases in the country.
"We have to make sure that Covid-19 does not break out in the country in future. We have to continue this (closure) and endure these sufferings for some more days," she said.
Bangladesh has so far confirmed five coronavirus deaths and 49 cases.
"We are taking this decision for the welfare of all," she said.
She, however, said that offices would remain open in limited way.
Sheikh Hasina said it would be inhumane if anyone hikes the prices of essential commodities during this time.
"We have to maintain the supply side so that the prices of essentials remain stable and stay within the commoners' reach," she said.
'DON'T HOLD PUBLIC PROGRAMMES ON PAHELA BAISHAKH'
The prime minister also directed not to hold any public programme marking the upcoming Pahela Baishakh (Bangla New Year).
She said people usually hold huge celebrations marking Pahela Baishakh. "As we have cancelled all programmes that attract large number of people, I'll request all to not hold Pahela Baishakh celebration programmes for the sake of people's welfare," she said.
In this connection, she suggested to hold the celebration programmes digitally to avoid public gathering.
'PPE FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS'
Regarding personal protective equipment (PPE), the prime minister said only doctors and other healthcare workers who are serving the Covid-19 infected patients will use PPE.
"There's no need for others to wear PPE," she said.
'WON'T TOLERATE CORRUPTION IN GOVT ASSISTANCE FOR POOR'
The PM again asked the officials concerned to prepare a separate list of distressed people up to ward level, who are badly affected due to the government declared closure.
"There must not be any type of corruption and irregularity in this programme," she said.
She asked the concerned officials to ensure that all distressed people get government assistance.
"None will be spared for corruption and irregularities ... we won't tolerate people taking advantage of the bad times to get rich. I'm warning you in advance," she said.
She also said that currently there is no scarcity of food in the country as it has enough stock.
FOOD SECURITY, AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION STRESSED
The prime minister was apprehensive that due to the virus outbreak there might be a serious economic meltdown.
"To face that recession we have to start planning from now," she said.
In this connection, she mentioned food security as the most important matter right now.
"We have to maintain our food production. Please don't leave a single inch of land fallow and single wetland without farming fish," she said.
She also said the government would provide all essential assistance. She asked the agriculture minister to ensure all kinds of materials including seeds, fertilisers and other essentials for the farmers.
'DON'T PANIC OVER CORONAVIRUS, FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS'
The prime minister asked all concerned, including public representatives and officials of the administration, police and health department, to work in a coordinated manner to protect the people from coronavirus.
She said that everyone will have to take responsibilities to check infections as well as protect public health.
In her speech, the PM urged the countrymen not to panic over coronavirus and said the government has successfully faced disasters many times in the past.
She mentioned that the government would also be able to tackle the coronavirus situation successfully and renewed her call for strictly following health instructions of the government to this end.
Putting emphasis on proper diagnosis, Sheikh Hasina requested everyone not to endanger themselves and others nearby by hiding symptoms.
At the same time, she directed the authorities concerned to take legal actions against those who are trying to spread rumour regarding coronavirus using the digital platform from home and abroad.
She urged people not to pay attention to any kind of rumour at this time of crisis.
Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzak, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, Minister for Local Government Division Tajul Islam, State Minister for Relief and Disaster Management Dr Enamur Rahman, and DNCC mayor-elect Atiqul Islam joined the video conference from the Cabinet Division.
Besides, public representatives, divisional commissioners, DIGs of Police, officials of district administration, police supers and civil surgeons of 64 districts also joined the video conference.