The country will ease restrictions on public movement from August 11 but anyone above 18 has to be vaccinated to move outside
Bangladesh is set to extend the ongoing nationwide strict lockdown by five days as coronavirus infections and fatalities continue to rise.
After that restrictions on public and vehicular movement will be relaxed in phases. Shops, malls, businesses and offices would be allowed to reopen from August 11, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Public transport will also resume on a limited scale from the same day, he said after an inter-ministerial meeting over the pandemic situation.
Health Minister Zahed Maleque said: “No one will be allowed to go to work, keep their shops open or operate public transports without being vaccinated.
“The authorities will have access to the vaccination database to ensure that no one over 18 years old is outdoors without a vaccine.”
If needed, the government might make staying outdoors without a vaccine after August 11 a punishable offence.
Zahid Maleque went on to say: “In addition to vaccination, emphasis is being placed on wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. To implement that properly, the police also need to be given some power.
“To fine those who do not wear masks an ordinance needs to be passed. The matter has been discussed and we might move forward with this.”
Before the lockdown is relaxed the vaccine aspirants will have four days in hand to get the jabs. As the vaccines will be administered at the grassroots levels too, they cannot come up with any excuse for not getting the jabs, added the health minister.
The first dose of vaccines will be administered at 14,000 centres all over Bangladesh under the mass vaccination program at the grassroots level from August 7, said the minister, adding that the working-class and the elderly would get priority.
They will be jabbed at their respective localities. The minister hoped that 10 million people would be vaccinated within the first week.
As of Tuesday, 9,398,829 people have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccines and of them 4,367,929 have had the second dose.
The health minister said the government now had about 12.5 million doses of vaccine. Apart from that, about 10 million more vaccine doses will arrive this month.
The meeting also emphasized the local production of Covid-19 vaccines. The work of producing vaccines locally by a Bangladeshi company in collaboration with China’s Sinopharm has come a long way.
Bangladesh has been under a fresh lockdown since July 23; it was supposed to end on August 5.
The decision to extend the lockdown comes even as the country goes through a significantly tough spell of Covid-19 infections.
Between 8am on Monday and 8am on Tuesday another 235 Covid-19 deaths and 15,776 new cases were recorded.
The latest additions took the country’s death toll to 21,397, the total caseload to 1,296,093 and the total number of recoveries to 1,125,045, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
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As many as 55,284 samples were tested during the 24-hour period, yielding an infection rate of 28.54%.
Dhaka counted 73 deaths, the highest among the eight divisions, followed by Chittagong with 65 fatalities. Thirty-two deaths were reported in Khulna division, 21 in Rajshahi, 12 each in Mymensingh, Rangpur and Sylhet, and eight in Barisal.
July marked the deadliest month for Bangladesh, with 6,182 fatalities. The pandemic is showing no signs of letting up, with the country recording 200-plus deaths on the first two days of August as well.