International

Coronavirus | Bangladesh declares 10-day nationwide holiday

Workers of an NGO make mask in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Workers of an NGO make mask in Dhaka, Bangladesh.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Public transport services would be restricted during the holidays, which begins with March 26, the country’s Independence Day.

Bangladesh on Monday declared a 10-day nationwide holiday from March 26 and called out the Army to enforce social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection that has claimed over 15,000 lives globally. All government- and private offices will be closed from March 26 to April 4.

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“The holidays will begin with the March 26 Independence Day holiday in view of the COVID-19 situation, Cabinet Secretary Khondker Anwarul Islam told a media briefing in the capital.

The top bureaucrat of the country added that troops were called out to enforce social distancing as the most crucial means to prevent the spread of the pandemic which has claimed three lives in the country. Bangladesh has reported 33 coronavirus cases so far.

Mr. Islam said the public transport services would be restricted during the holidays when all government- and private offices, except those involved in emergency services including law enforcement and health facilities, would remain shut.

Watch: What will be affected and what will we available during a lockdown?

He said despite repeated calls to the public to stay indoors, some families were found to be holidaying, a situation that he described to justify the military deployment. One coronavirus patient, who died of infection, was feared to have infected some others after going to a mosque despite his illness.

Mr. Islam, accompanied by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s principal secretary and armed forces division officials, said the low-income people could return to their villages where they would be provided with the government aid or they could take refuge in Bhashanchar Island in Bay of Bengal.

Infrastructures were developed in the island under a government plan to relocate over a million of Rohingya refugees who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in its latest briefing on Monday said during the past 24 hours six more people were found to be infected with coronavirus, one of them being a doctor and two other nurses.

The IEDCR said they tested have 56 people in the last 24 hours while a total of 620 people had been tested so far. Reports said lack of required equipment barred health authorities to examine suspected cases.

Several public hospitals across the country set up isolation units for possible coronavirus patients, but a lot of them lack adequate resources and equipment including personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide necessary services.

According to media reports, many doctors, nurses and staff members were finding it difficult to continue work owing to the growing risk of infection.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque, however, said, “We still do not need PPE that desperately” and no one makes PPE pre-emptively as none can prepare everything in advance”.

“We had preparation and that is why we managed to quarantine 20,000 people,” he said.

Nearly 200 interns of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital on March 19 halted their work until the hospital provided them with protective gears.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 11:50:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/coronavirus-bangladesh-declares-10-day-nationwide-holiday/article31144495.ece

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