Bangladesh extends virus lockdown until August 10


Bangladesh is extending its lockdown measures for five more days, in an attempt to contain the rise in Covid-19 infections caused by the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus.

The current restrictions will continue until August 10, a government notice said on Thursday. Factories and domestic flights are excluded from the shutdown, it added.

Amid soaring case numbers, Bangladesh imposed a nationwide lockdown early last month, closing offices, shopping malls and public transport.

However, the restrictions were relaxed for nine days to enable people to move around during the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha, before the shutdown was reimposed on July 23 for another two weeks.

Bangladesh is currently recording the highest infection numbers since the arrival of the Delta variant was reported in June.

The Delta variant accounts for 98 per cent of cases in Bangladesh, according to research carried out by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).

They used 300 samples from different parts of the country for the study, said Sharfuddin Ahemd, head of the BSMMU.

Over the past 10 days, there have been 15,000 new infections each day, on average, and 236 deaths, according to a government tally.

The South Asian nation is scheduled to begin a mass vaccination campaign focusing on rural areas on Saturday, then plans to gradually lift its restrictions on August 11.

“The mass inoculation against the virus will help us return gradually to normalcy,” Mozammel Haque, a senior minister who heads the government’s pandemic review panel, told reporters on Tuesday.

His comments came after a meeting where officials decided to allow work at offices and public transport to resume on a limited scale from the middle of next week.

Bangladesh has so far reported nearly 1.3 million cases of the virus and 21,638 deaths since the pandemic began in March last year.

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