Dhaka, June 30, (dpa/GNA) – Bangladesh is to deploy army troopers to aid the civil administration enforce a nationwide lockdown to slow the rise in coronavirus infections, the government said on Wednesday.
An adequate number of army troopers would be deployed for effective patrol on the ground alongside civilian forces during the shutdown, beginning on Thursday, according to an official notice.
It said offices and transportation would be shut during the seven-day lockdown, which excludes the emergency services.
“No one will be allowed to leave home except for an emergency during this seven-day period,” the notice read.
Strict disciplinary action would be taken against those who flout the restrictions, it added.
Mills and factories, however, would be allowed to operate as long as their owners could ensure health rules properly.
“Workers residing nearby the factories will be allowed inside the production units to keep the operations on,” said Faruque Hassan, head of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The decision to implement the strict lockdown came after previous restrictions were only imposed loosely, and the arrival of the Delta variant worsened the situation this month.
The government closed down city buses, malls, tourist sites, and banned large social gatherings to restrict people’s movement earlier on Monday, a week after it suspended long-haul buses, railway and ferry services.
Tens of thousands of people, however, struggled to leave the capital Dhaka and other large cities for their villages ahead of the seven-day lockdown.
A country of more than 160 million, Bangladesh’s embattled health-care system has carried out less than 6.6 million coronavirus tests since the first cases of Covid-19 emerged in March last year.
Some 904,436 cases and 14,388 deaths have been reported so far, with the highest daily death toll of 119 reported on Sunday.
Nearly three months after rolling out mass vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab, Bangladesh had to abruptly suspend the campaign in late April after India halted its vaccine exports.
It resumed the programme on June 20 with more than 1 million doses of Sinopharm jabs donated by the Chinese government. The South Asian country is now desperately looking for other countries to import vaccines from.