Bangladesh implemented the strictest lockdown in history at the beginning of this month in response to the COVID-19 death toll and surge in cases.
The government of Bangladesh said on Tuesday that even if the number of new infections soars to a record level, Bangladesh will still lift the nationwide coronavirus blockade during the country’s second largest religious holiday.
The Cabinet stated that starting from Thursday, before the Eid al-Adha, celebrated from July 20 to 22 this year, all restrictions will be relaxed in this country of 169 million people.
It added that removing restrictions would “normalize economic activity” before the celebration.
Tens of millions of people usually return to their villages to celebrate Eid al-Adha with their families.
As the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths climbed to record highs, Bangladesh implemented the strictest lockdown in history at the beginning of this month.
During the lockdown, people can only leave their homes and buy necessities in an emergency. Public transportation, shops and offices are closed.
The number of infections continues to climb
But the number of infections continues to climb, with nearly 14,000 people testing positive on Monday — a new daily record — bringing the total number of cases to just over 1 million.
The death toll has risen to more than 16,600. But experts said that the actual number may be much higher due to concerns about underreporting.
The head of the Health Commission, Mohammad Shahidullah (Mohammad Shahidullah), said his team of experts opposed the relaxation of blockade measures.
Shahidullah told AFP: “The committee believes that this strict blockade should continue until the number of infected people shows a downward trend.”
“During the lockdown, the number of infections and deaths has been on the rise. The level of infection remains high.”
There are also concerns that crowded purchase of animals in the market during the holiday season for slaughter and large gatherings may become a super-spreader event.
Revival vaccination campaign
The announcement came as the authorities restarted the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, which almost ceased in late April, as the virus surged and the import of vaccines from neighboring India was suspended to meet local demand.
The restarted vaccination program was launched on a large scale on Tuesday. Through the COVAX program, 2 million doses of Sinopharm from China and 2.5 million doses of Moderna from the United States.
To date, 4.2 million people in Bangladesh have received two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine purchased or donated from India. Another 1.6 million people received an injection.
In nearby Bhutan, 500,000 doses of Moderna drug arrived from the United States via COVAX late Monday.
It is expected that Denmark, Croatia, Bulgaria, China and several other countries will donate more lenses.
In India, the world’s second most infected country, where cases have fallen from a record high in May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned people not to flock to the northern Himalayas to escape the heat.
“The virus does not come and go by itself… When we do not follow the rules, we carry it with us. Experts have repeatedly warned us that careless behavior-such as overcrowding-will lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases,” he said on Tuesday. State leaders said during the meeting.