Lockdown extends as deaths climb
The current travel and other restrictions will be extended for a week from April 22 as hospitals continue to struggle to cope with the number of Covid-19 patients.
The number of deaths reported in a day was the highest in the country yesterday while the major health facilities have recently been operating at capacity.
The cabinet division yesterday sent a proposal to extend the restrictions to the Prime Minister's Office for approval following a meeting held virtually between secretaries of different ministries and business association leaders.
A gazette notification might be issued by today, said Surath Kumar Sarker, principal information officer at the Press Information Department.
"The lockdown will remain in force from April 22 to 28 with the same restrictions imposed the week before. It'll be a stricter one," State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossian said after the cabinet division meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, reports UNB.
Sources present in the meeting said the initial decision was to extend the restrictions until April 29, but the businessmen convinced others to limit the restrictions to an additional seven days.
The proposal sent to the PMO sought a ban on public transport on roads, waterways, railways, and air. There will be no restrictions on freight, emergency, and other services linked to production units.
Health officials yesterday reported 112 deaths from Covid-19, the highest in a day in Bangladesh.
The number of deaths has been over 100 for three days in a row.
Yesterday's proposal for extending the restrictions followed the recommendations made by the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19.
In its 31st meeting held virtually on Sunday night, the committee members suggested another week-long strict lockdown to contain the rapid spread of coronavirus, according to a press release from the committee.
An outcome cannot be expected in less than two weeks of lockdown, the committee said, adding, "Considering the infection rate, further decisions can be made."
The press release said the experts expressed satisfaction over the current lockdown and recommended formulation of a plan to lift the restrictions in phases.
The NTAC earlier recommended what it said would be a "full-fledged lockdown".
The Cabinet Division on April 4 issued an 11-point directive with a set of restrictions effective from 6:00am on April 5 to 12:00am on April 11. The directive allowed offices, mills and factories to operate.
The government later allowed resumption of bus services in the cities and lifted restrictions on shops and malls.
As experts doubted whether the "half-hearted restrictions" would be effective at all, the cabinet division on April 12 issued a circular regarding a "strict lockdown" from 6:00am on April 14 to April 21 midnight.
Yesterday was the sixth day of the current restrictions.
Although all public and private offices remained shuttered and public transport suspended, there were many rickshaws, auto-rickshaws and private vehicles on the thoroughfares.
Emergency services, garments and other factories, and a few branches of banks continued their operations.
While shopping malls and larger stores in the capital remain closed, many shops that are not selling groceries and drugs have been open with half-closed shutters.
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at a press conference yesterday said, "The government is planning to ease the lockdown so that people can live their lives, go shopping before Eid, and visit the hometowns. I'm requesting everyone to make mental preparations and be patient."
NEW RECORD EVERYDAY
The deaths reported yesterday took the toll to 10,497, according to a handout from the Directorate General of Health Services.
The death rate now stands at 1.45 percent.
Among those reported dead yesterday, 75 were men and 37 women. Ten were aged between 31 and 40 years, 12 between 41 and 50, 26 between 51 and 60, and 64 above 60, said the release.
At least 4,271 new infections were recorded, taking the total number of people infected to 7,23,221.
The current positivity rate is 17.68 percent while the overall positivity rate is 13.92 percent.
The new cases were detected through testing 24,152 samples across the country in the 24 hours preceding 8:00am yesterday.
At least 6,364 patients recovered during the period taking the total number of recoveries to 6,21,300. The recovery rate was 85.91 percent as of yesterday.