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Dhaka Tribune

Covid-19: Public holiday likely to be extended

Shab-e-Barat and Pohela Boishakh, due over the next two weeks, are two major events in Bangladesh that involve mass gatherings

Update : 30 Mar 2020, 08:01 PM

The government may extend the general holiday now in place around the country for 10 more days, considering the global situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The revised schedule will include the holidays of Shab-e-Barat, Easter Sunday and Pohela Boishakh, extending the holidays till mid-April.

Shab-e-Barat and Pohela Boishakh are two major occasions from religious and cultural perspectives in Bangladesh, involving mass gatherings across the country.

To ensure social distancing in order to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading further, Bangladesh is currently observing a 10-day public holiday, which went underway on March 26 and will continue till April 4.

“We will propose to extend the public holidays for solidifying the preventive measures taken in the country,” said Heath Service Division Secretary Asadul Islam.

“A general holiday like this is an effective method of ensuring social distancing and reducing mass gatherings,” he added.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque, however, said: “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will take the decision regarding the holiday extension; it has not been finalized yet.”

A Cabinet Division official also said that the decision about the holiday extension would likely be taken on Tuesday.

“Whether the holidays will be extended for 10 days or seven days will be decided depending on the assessment reports provided by the deputy commissioners,” the official told Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity.

The meeting will be held through a videoconference.

Videoconference with DCs

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hold a videoconference with the deputy commissioners (DC) on Tuesday for assessing the coronavirus situation around the country.

The prime minister will hold a conference with the DCs for the first time since the government-enforced nationwide social distancing initiative started, said Md Mustafizur Rahman, divisional commissioner of Dhaka.

“The prime minister will give her directives to the DCs after assessing the country's overall coronavirus situation,” he added.

The prime minister's Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus on Monday also held a videoconference with the divisional commissioners and DCs as part of the preparation.

World resorting to lockdown, social distancing

Globally, countries are resorting to lockdowns and social distancing to tackle the spread of the deadly virus.

The US has extended its federal guidelines on social distancing for another 30 days till April 30, as public health experts there warned that the death toll from Covid-19 could reach as high as 200,000.

India has been on a 21-day lockdown since March 24, and Pakistan partially for two weeks from the same day.

France has been observing social distancing for the period March 17- April 15 and Malaysia from March 18 to April 14.

Italy closed down everything from March 9.

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