Lockdown: Govt announces nationwide strict shutdown from Monday for a week
The country will be put under a complete lockdown for seven days from Monday to stem the surge in Covid-19 cases.
This time, nobody will be allowed to step out of home except for emergencies, said a statement from the Press Information Department (PID) yesterday evening.
Later, Farhad Hossain, state minister for public administration, told The Daily Star that members of the army and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) along with the police would be deployed to ensure proper enforcement of the lockdown.
This is the first time the government has used the word "lockdown" while announcing countrywide Covid-19 curbs, indicating the strict nature of the restrictions about to be put in place.
In all previous announcements relating to the curbs, it had talked about imposing restrictions on public and traffic movement.
The fresh announcement came a day after the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 recommended "a complete nationwide shutdown" for 14 days in the face of a deepening health crisis.
Asked what they meant by a complete shutdown, Prof Mohammad Sahidullah, chief of the NTAC, said, "It means all should stay home. Everything will be closed except for emergency services."
The PID statement said all government and private offices, except for those providing emergency services, would remain closed during the seven-day lockdown.
"All vehicles, excluding those carrying essential goods, will be kept off the roads. Only ambulances and vehicles used for providing health services will be allowed to run," said the statement.
The press will also be out of the lockdown's purview, it said.
The details on how the lockdown will be enforced will be announced by the government today, according to the statement.
The lockdown was announced hours after the health directorate reported 108 deaths from Covid-19, the second highest daily deaths in the country since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in March last year.
The positivity rate also jumped to 21.22 percent yesterday, the highest in the last 69 days. On April 17, the infection rate was 21.46 percent, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The country is already going through "restrictions on public and vehicular movement", which were announced on June 16 and are to continue till July 15.
Besides, restrictions on public and vehicular movement were imposed in seven districts around Dhaka on June 21 by the Cabinet Division to guard the capital against the virus.
According to a government notification, all tourist spots, resorts, community and entertainment centres must remain closed, and all types of public gatherings are banned.
SITUATION OUTSIDE DHAKA
Experts said the second wave of the pandemic continued in the country with the spillover of the Delta variant of the virus from India into the bordering districts.
As Bangladesh is set to be put under a complete lockdown, hospitals in the bordering districts totter due to a crisis of beds and other supports as cases continue to surge.
In Khulna, the three Covid-19-dedicated hospitals were overflowing with patients. At least seven people died and 176 cases were reported there yesterday .
Khulna division, which consists of 10 districts, has so far been the worst victim of the recent surge in cases. Nine hundred and sixteen people have so far died in the division. Of them, 164 passed away in the last one week alone, according to the DGHS.
In Satkhira, at least eight people died either with Covid-19 or its symptoms in 24 hours preceding 8:00am yesterday, while hospitals keep grappling with patients.
"The pressure of Covid-19 patients is so high that we have to keep patients on the hospital floor amid a shortage of beds," said Dr Qudrat-E-Khuda, superintendent of Satkhira Medical College Hospital.
"Currently, 180 such patients are admitted in this hospital. Of them, 142 tested positive. The rest were showing Covid-19-like symptoms," said Taposh Kumar Sarker, resident medical officer of the hospital.
In Kushtia, the authorities yesterday declared the 250-bed general hospital a Covid-19 dedicated facility for the time being as the number of patients increased sharply.
"Due to a shortage of beds in the hospital, a large number of Covid-19 patients are now staying in isolation at home. If they do not follow the quarantine rule, the situation will worsen further," said Abdul Momen, superintendent of the hospital.
In Patuakhali, the infection rate was 42.85 percent on Thursday, said Dr Jahangir Alam, civil surgeon of the district.
[Our correspondents in those districts contributed to this report]