The premier says 80% people will get free Covid vaccines
Admitting the losses Bangladesh’s education sector has suffered for the prolonged closure of educational institutions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said the government cannot put the lives of students at stake knowing it clearly that Covid-19 will infect them as well.
“Children are also getting infected by the coronavirus. [If we open the schools] they’ll learn but the question is whether we should force them to the verge of death knowing this virus will infect them, too,” she said.
The prime minister said this while delivering her winding-up speech at the budget session in parliament as a number of opposition MPs, including Leputy Leader of the Opposition GM Quader, criticised the government for keeping educational institutions shut for an indefinite period.
Sheikh Hasina, also the Leader of the House, said the government will open the educational institutions after vaccinating students.
She mentioned that the parents of students are also not interested in sending their children to educational institutions. “Those who’re most vocal about it either have no children who are students or their children have already completed their education.”
Sheikh Hasina said the government has already vaccinated the teachers and will provide vaccines for the students following the instructions of the World Health Organisation (WHO). “We’ve to follow WHO. Keeping that point in mind, we’ve started our job regarding vaccination of the students.”
Talking about the problem of getting coronavirus vaccines, the prime minister said the government has procured vaccines from India with cash. “But the sudden spike in coronavirus infections in India forced the country to impose a ban on vaccine export. We’ve faced problems for some days,” she admitted.
She informed the House that a good number of doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines have already arrived in the country.
“We’re also communicating with the countries where the vaccines of coronavirus are available. We’ll procure more vaccines; we’ll buy, no matter what the price is. For that, we’ve allocated separate funds," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is communicating with China, Russia, the US, Japan and Australia to collect vaccines, and the government will provide free vaccines to up to 80% of people.
“We’ve made the Covid-19 test free as the number of infected people has surged at the district level in recent times,” she added.
The prime minister said the government has been allocated Tk32,236 crore for vaccine procurement while an additional amount of Tk10,000 crore has been kept aside for emergency purposes.
Talking about the lockdown, she said the government will look after the food security issue of people and called on all to keep themselves safe from coronavirus and other health hazards. “Please follow the health guidelines, let's not spread coronavirus further,” she appealed.
Sheikh Hasina also mentioned that before the Eid-ul-Fitr she had requested people repeatedly not to move from the places where they were. “But many did not pay heed to that, they rushed [to their village homes]. What’s the result of that now - the spread of the virus! If everyone had listened to our call this spread might not have occurred!” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has been able to maintain the pace of the economy during the pandemic. “That’s why inflation is under control while the growth is maintained properly.”
“Although we couldn’t achieve the growth that we had wanted, we have attained the highest growth in South Asia,” she said.
The prime minister said the aim of this year’s budget was to face the coronavirus and revive the economy that suffered heavily due to this deadly virus, bring the marginal people under the coverage of social safety net and give topmost priority to health services.
She also briefly described the various measures of the government, including the stimulus packages given by the government, to offset the impacts of the pandemic.
Talking about drug abuse, the prime minister said it is now a problem for the whole world, including Bangladesh. “We’re taking action against it, but this cannot be controlled,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina requested parents and guardians to look after their children. Guardians and teachers have to give good lessons to the children so that they do not go down any wrong path, she added.