Bangladesh on Friday announced a strict countrywide shutdown until further notice to check the spread of COVID-19, as it reported 108 deaths from coronavirus, the second highest single-day toll since the pandemic’s outbreak in the country. Health officials said the deadly Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, has spread to Dhaka, mounting pressure on health facilities in the country’s capital.
“Other than emergency services, all government and private offices will remain closed . No one will be allowed to go out of home without urgent reasons," an official order said. Only goods-laden and emergency vehicles will be allowed to operate during the lockdown, it said.
The death toll due to COVID-19 reached 13,976 while the total number of positive cases touched 8,78,804 with 5,869 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to the latest data by the Health Ministry. The country recorded the highest 112 deaths on April 19 this year.
The health authorities’ report came hours after the Public Administration Ministry said they awaited a government decision to enforce a two-week long nationwide shutdown in line with the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on COVID-19. We are ready to enforce the shutdown anytime…it (enforcement) will be tougher than that of last year, Junior Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told reporters.
NTAC said they have recommended a strict countrywide lockdown when no offices other than emergency services would operate as their experts were convinced that the worsening situation could not be controlled without a nationwide shutdown. Bangladesh is experiencing an increase in the COVID-19 infection rate, with the latest report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) noting that out of the country’s 64 administrative districts 43 were at very high risk while 15 others, including Dhaka, were at high risk.
Health officials said the Delta variant of the coronavirus has spread to Dhaka, mounting pressure on health facilities here. The northern and southwestern regions bordering India have also reported cases of Delta variant. Authorities last week ordered a lockdown in seven central districts surrounding Dhaka in an effort to isolate the capital from the rest of the country to prevent community transmission in view of rising infection cases in bordering regions.
But experts said the Delta variant made its way to the capital through community transmission and the doctors said the number of COVID-19 patients was increasing every day at hospitals. The country’s biggest state-run health facility, Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), said 80 per cent of their COVID-19 patients were residents of the capital city and the number is increasing every day.
“The number of COVID-19 patients is increasing everyday at DMCH and 80 per cent of them are residents of Dhaka city . this means infection rate is increasing in the capital, DMCH Director Brigadier General Md Nazmul Haque told the state-run BSS news agency. Haque said the current number of COVID-19 patients in DMCH was nearly four times higher than that of last month and feared if this trend continued all general and ICU beds in the city will be fulfilled within 10 to 12 days.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital reported a nearly identical picture with its additional director Nazmul Karim Manik saying pressure (of coronavirus patients) is mounting gradually and most of them are from Dhaka. Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Director Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin said districts bordering India are more exposed to the Delta variant compared to Dhaka.
The Delta variant is largely responsible for the recent spike of the coronavirus cases…We must check people’s movement in border districts to contain the community transmission, Shirin said. DGHS officials said the situation in districts with borders with India particularly in southwestern Khulna region continued to worsen and at places the COVID-19 positivity rate were found to be 100 per cent.