Don't panic, stay at home
Follow home quarantine rules
Abide by health instructions
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday announced a stimulus package of Tk 5,000 crore for the export-oriented industries to fight the adverse impact of coronavirus on the country's economy.
She said the money would be used for providing the salaries and wages of workers and employees.
Hasina was addressing the nation in the evening on the occasion of the Independence and National Day 2020.
State-owned Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television simultaneously broadcast her address. Private television channels and radio stations also aired the over 23-minute speech.
The PM said Bangladesh Bank has already taken some pro-business steps. The central bank would not declare any customer loan defaulter till June, she added.
She said the timeframe for realising export earnings has been increased to six months from two months. Likewise, the timeframe for meeting import expenses has been increased to six months from four months.
The PM said the limit of mobile banking has been increased, the payment deadline for power, water and gas bills have been extended to June without any fine or surcharge and the payment of NGOs' loan instalments has been suspended.
"The whole world is now going through uncertainty, but our government is ready to face any kind of tough situation. We are the government of the people and we are always with the people. I am keeping my eyes on the situation."
Terming the fight against coronavirus a war, the premier urged the people to stay at home.
"We won in 1971 against our enemy by standing shoulder to shoulder. Fighting coronavirus is also a war. In this war, your responsibility is to stay at home. Inshallah, we will win the war with everyone's efforts," she said.
Hasina asked the people to strictly follow health instructions to fight against coronavirus and avoid public gatherings.
She said right now the highest priority for the government is to save people from the virus.
Bangladesh has so far confirmed 39 cases after testing 794 people. Of them, five have died so far died and seven others recovered.
The PM said the World Health Organization has already declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic. She noted that the Independence Day would be observed in a different context this year due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
"Be they rich or poor, developed or developing, small or big, all countries are more or less affected by this virus. Bangladesh is not free from this infection as well."
She urged everyone to avoid organising programmes which require public gatherings.
Hasina said she was aware that people were passing their days in a kind of panic and worry. "I can understand their psychological condition, but at this crisis moment, we have to face the situation with patience and courage."
She called on the expatriates who returned from coronavirus-hit countries to thoroughly follow home quarantine rules. "Just stay separately for only 14 days. These instructions have to be followed to save your family, neighbours, people of the area, and above all, the people of the country."
She requested the Muslims to offer prayers and followers of other faiths to perform their religious activities at home for now.
Hasina said the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has opened hotline numbers and doctors have opened 500 numbers. "If the coronavirus symptoms show up, please contact those numbers. The government is arranging all types of treatment."
She said although coronavirus has the ability to spread quickly, it is not that deadly. Most of the people infected with the virus get well within a few days, but it turns deadly for people with underlying medical conditions and the old, she added.
The PM urged everyone to pay the highest attention to those of their family members who are most sensitive.
"Don't panic. Panic destroys logical thinking. Your awareness will keep you, your family and above all the people of the country safe," she said.
Hasina described various measures taken by her government from the very beginning of coronavirus outbreak in China. She said 6,58,981 people have been screened at different ports in the country.
The government has taken up massive programmes since January to tackle the coronavirus. Committees have been formed at the city corporation, municipality, district, upazila and unions levels, she said.
Covid-19, first reported in China in December last year, has affected 196 countries and territories and one international conveyance. Until yesterday, 435,382 cases have been confirmed globally with a death toll of 19,620, according to Worldometer.
Hasina said health workers have to play an important role in providing treatment to the infected people. "Sufficient materials have been supplied for their safety and enough materials have been preserved as highest priority has been given on their safety. Don't be confused."
Urging all not to spread rumours, she warned the rumour-mongers of stern actions.
She mentioned that operation of passenger trains, water vessels and domestic flights have been suspended from last night.
The PM hoped that the world would be able to get rid of this calamity very soon due to the development of science and technology and efforts from all.
Talking about the supply of essentials, the premier said the supply chain within and outside the country is intact.
"Don't raise the prices of essentials illogically. Don't deepen the misery of the people. Steps have been taken to monitor the markets everywhere," she said.
'TIME TO HELP EACH OTHER'
Hasina said a good number of people in the country have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak. "We have to stand beside them."
She said the low-income people would be provided assistance under the "Return-to-Home" programme for the homeless and landless people as there would be homes free of cost, six month's food and cash assistance. "The district administrations have been directed in this regard."
The PM said accommodation has been made in Bhashanchar island to provide shelter and employment for 100,000 people. "The government will take steps if anyone wants to go there."
She said VGD, VGF and rice for Tk 10 per kg programmes would be continued with free medicine and treatment. She urged the rich to come forward to help the poor.
Mentioning that it is the time for austerity, Hasina urged the people not to purchase excessive consumer goods, and not to hoard and let the fixed-income group people buy.
She said private mill owners and farmers have a huge stock of foodgrains. In the current season, the country has bumper production of potato, onion, chilli and wheat, she added.
Hasina said the test of humanity occurs during a disaster.
"This is the time to help each other and show humanity. The Bangalees are a nation of heroes. The Bangalee nation faced various disasters and crisis with united efforts," she said.