• Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:15 am

Bangladesh likely to extend shutdown till May 16

  • Published at 03:44 pm May 2nd, 2020
Birds Eye View Dhaka
This recently taken photo shows docked launches and water vessels on both sides of Buriganga River in Dhaka after the nationwide shutdown started Courtesy: Ibnul Asaf Jawed

Govt looking at easing of lockdown on a limited scale

The government is going to extend the ongoing nationwide shutdown by ten days contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

A source at the public administration ministry confirmed Dhaka Tribune that the shutdown will be extended to May 16.

Earlier on March 23, due to Covid 19, the government declared a nationwide 10-day holiday from March 26 to April 4, shutting down public and private offices except essential and healthcare facilities.

The shutdown was extended for multiple times till May 5.

Sources inside the ministry said the instructions to maintain restrictions during the shutdown will remain same but some relaxations will be allowed, details of which will come in a notification to be issued on Sunday or Monday.

As of Saturday, health authorities in Bangladesh recorded 8,790 Covid-19 cases and 175 deaths.

Govt looking at new strategy

The health ministry has been working with veteran scientists and physicians to find new ways to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, in Bangladesh.

The novel coronavirus is already at the community transmission level in the country, health officials said.

The government is likely to relax lockdown rather than withdraw it completely after May 16, the scheduled end of the shutdown that began on March 26. Covid-19 testing is to be increased to the mass level and quarantine measures will still be strict.

Businesses may be opened on a limited scale.

“We are looking at new strategies to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as the country is at the

community transmission level now,” said Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) official Nasima Sultana.

“The new strategies will be settled and finalized by the top management of the Heath Affairs Ministry and DGHS,” Additional Director Sultana told the Dhaka Tribune on Friday.

The Health Affairs Ministry has called meetings to look at and finalize the new strategies next Sunday and Monday.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque has called an inter-ministerial meeting with the ministries, agencies and

stakeholders concerned on Sunday, to find a way to reopen industries and business organizations.

The Public Security Division secretary, Industry Ministry secretary, Labour and Employment Affairs Ministry secretary, Commerce Ministry secretary, inspector general of police, and chief health officers of

Dhaka North and South City Corporations are scheduled to attend the meeting. The presidents of the FBCCI, BGMEA, BKMEA, BTMEA and MCCI have also been invited.

Readymade garment factories have already opened on a limited scale while maintaining social distancing and coronavirus preventive guidelines. Only workers who live near their respective RMG factories are supposed to go to work.

However, the opening of other industries and business organizations will require transport systems to also be opened.

“Although government offices, RMG factories and goods transports are being operated on a limited scale due to many emergencies, an extension of the public holidays [shutdown] is still under consideration by the government, especially to avoid mass gatherings,” said a senior official of the government.

“The reopening of passenger transports, educational and religious institutions may be delayed,” he added.

Although educational institutions will remain close until further notice, all public and private universities will be allowed to hold online classes, examinations, and evaluations in order to avoid session jam. 

Health Minister Zahid Maleque has called the meeting on Monday with the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC), to set new strategy to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

NTAC consists of 17 veteran physicians and scientists and was formed in order to advise the government on the prevention of coronavirus, as the virus is now at the community transmission level.

On Wednesday, NATC urged decision-makers to sit with them before setting new strategies to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

 NATC also handed over a series of recommendation to the Health Affairs Ministry and DGHS, to curb the

coronavirus outbreak.

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