Covid lockdown gets a one-week extension

Covid lockdown gets a one-week extension

The government on Monday extended the ongoing ‘lockdown’ for another week until April 28 as the Covid-19 claimed a record 112 lives during the last 24 hours, ending at 8am Monday.

The ongoing lockdown is due to end on April 21 next.

The Covid-19 fatalities have been posting new records during the last few days amidst a strong resurgence of the viral disease.

With the latest daily count, the total fatalities from coronavirus reached 10,497 in the country, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) data.

The infection rate, however, showed a downward trend— 17.68 per cent— on Monday from the previous day’s 19.06 per cent.

The government on Monday decided to extend the countrywide ‘hard’ lockdown by seven more days to rein in the second wave of the disease.

“It has been decided to extend the ongoing lockdown from April 22 to April 28. A proposal has been sent to the Prime Minister for her approval, following which a gazette notification will be issued,” said State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain.

He said the chain of virus infection cannot be broken without imposing hard lockdown for at least two weeks, and the reality forced the government to go for an extension.

Road Transport and Bridges minister Obaidul Quader, however, said on the day that the government might allow reopening of shops and markets before the next Eid festival.

However, the government did not issue any circular over extension of the lockdown until filling of the report at 8:00 pm.

According to the DGHS figures, a total of 24,152 samples were tested, including antigen-based rapid tests, while some 24,212 samples were collected across the country during the last 24-hour reporting time until Monday morning.

A total of 6,364 people recovered from the Covid-19 during the period. The rate of recovery from the disease remained almost unchanged at 85.91 per cent, said its press release.

The rate of fatalities from coronavirus also remained static at 1.45 per cent on Monday.

A total of 7,23,221 people have, so far, been tested Covid-19 positive in Bangladesh since March, and 6,21,300 of them recovered from the deadly disease. Over 5.19 million samples were tested across the country until April 19.

On the other hand, some 15,057 more people received the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while 1,40,678 got its second dose across the country on Monday, according to the DGHS.

With these, the government administered nearly 5.73 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccine and over 1.25 million of second dose since the mass vaccination programme was launched in the country on February 7.

Nearly 7.13 million people got registered for receiving Covid-19 vaccine until 5:30 pm on April 19, it added.

Meanwhile, the decision on lockdown extension came several hours after the National Technical Advisory Committee for Covid-19 recommended extending the ongoing complete lockdown for another week.

The committee in a statement said it also suggested the authorities concerned to prepare a plan to come out of the lockdown.

The committee realised the need for keeping the industries and offices open for the sake of keeping the country’s economy afloat.

However, opening of private offices, banks and factories, increasing private car on roads, and gatherings at the iftar markets have made the success of the ongoing lockdown uncertain, it observed.

Healthcare professionals hailed the latest decision to extend lockdown. But, it came as a severe blow to the business people, who feared that continuation of the lockdown ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr would shatter their hope of making some business during the festival.

Raihan Sharif, proprietor of a cloth shop at Genetic Plaza in Dhanmondi 27, told the FE that after losing 80 per cent of his capital last year, he took a big amount of bank loan in January last.

He invested the amount expecting to recoup loss of last year to some extent by making a good business this year.

“But the lockdown has come as a nightmare for us, as all types of trading have been closed,” he added.

Md Helal Uddin, president of Bangladesh Dokan Malik Somity, said the shop owners were counting losses every day amid the ongoing lockdown.

Most of them would become bank defaulters due to the extension of lockdown, and many would be forced to shut their trade forever.

He also said businesses witnessed severe loss last year, as they missed all key festivals like the Eid, Durga Puja and other seasonal festivals due to the pandemic.

The government would have to find out alternatives to lockdown for the greater interests of the country’s economy as well as livelihood of 2.0 million families directly involved in the sector.

Md Golam Maula, secretary of Moulvibazar Wholesale Merchants Association in the city, said traders purchased a huge volume of sugar, edible oil, hot spices and many other essentials targeting the Eid-ul-Fitr festival.

But their sales dropped by 60 per cent, as a poor number of wholesalers and retailers from distant places of the city were coming to the market

FBCCI vice president Hasina Newaaj said the businesses are worried about the latest decision to extend the lockdown by another week.

After a yearlong hardship, the businesses had started their activities mainly from the beginning of this year with ‘new normal business strategies’ that also went in vein.

“I know lockdown is important to contain the viral infection, but it will force many traders to shut their business permanently. How long will the business people fight for survival? We need to find out an alternative to lockdown,” she mentioned.

Meanwhile, the ongoing suspension of international flights to and from Bangladesh was also extended for another week in line with the government’s decision to extend the ongoing hard lockdown, sources at the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh confirmed.

But special flights to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and Singapore would continue, so that thousands of expatriate workers, who had been stranded in the country since April 14, could return to their workplaces in those five countries.

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