The government has decided to strengthen the mass vaccination campaign and continue the ongoing lockdown to bring the coronavirus situation under control.
In a meeting to discuss ways to break a record rise in deadly COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the government decided to launch vaccination at union-level on August 7, reports bdnews24.com.
“The prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) has ordered to strengthen the vaccination drive. Whoever visits the centres with NID cards will get vaccines,” said Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, who presided over the meeting.
“We will do it with the doses we have now.”
Those having no NID card will be given the shots under special arrangements, said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the citizens aged above 50 will be prioritised in the campaign.
Kamal said the government cannot accept the industrialists’ request to allow them to continue production at factories. “The ongoing lockdown will continue”.
He said they did not discuss an extension of the lockdown after Aug 5.
People, however, have begun going out without emergency reasons. “We’ve told the law-enforcing agencies about this,” the home minister said.
With the ever-increasing death toll and surge in the COVID-19 infection cases, Bangladesh has reached the worst of its pandemic situation one and a half years after it had reported the first cases.
All efforts, including strict lockdown restrictions, have proved to be futile to tame the fast-spreading pathogen.
Bangladesh has set a record both in daily COVID-19 cases and death toll on Monday.
As many as 15,192 COVID-19 cases were reported while the death toll stood at 247 in 24 hours on Monday.
The toll reported on Tuesday broke Monday’s record with 257 fatalities. Another 14,925 cases were reported.
Prevalence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus has pushed up the number of cases and the death toll for the past few months.
In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government imposed a lockdown on Jul 1 but later relaxed the restrictions ignoring the experts' suggestion. The record death and infection cases were reported just after the Eid-ul-Azha holidays when the restrictions were relaxed.
Experts have warned for the worst pandemic situation in August. The current strict lockdown is scheduled to continue until Aug 5.
Although the experts have suggested continuing the lockdown, the government has to consider how the lockdown is affecting people's livelihoods.
With the infection spreading fast, there is no option but to impose strict restrictions, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain had said.
Bangladesh may face the same situation with the healthcare system collapsing just like India experienced a few months ago amid the second wave of the pandemic, experts warned.
Bangladesh is now facing a scarcity of hospital beds as well.
Secretary Anwarul emphasised personal health awareness to handle the situation.
"The coronavirus cannot be controlled just by increasing the number of hospital beds and doctors. You can look at the countries in Europe like Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany. Germany was in a helpless state. Look at what happened in India."
“If people don't wear masks or comply with (social) distancing rules, it will be almost impossible (to contain the pandemic)."