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Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday asked authorities concerned to bring under complete lockdown the areas of COVID-19 transmission and check entry to and exit from Dhaka city to contain the novel coronavirus spread in the country.

She also asked to find ways to release convicts who were jailed for petty offences and those who had completed major part of their jail terms considering the growing coronavirus crisis, said a minister after the weekly cabinet meeting.  

Presiding over the cabinet meeting at her Ganabhaban residence, Sheikh Hasina expressed her annoyance at the commerce minister and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association leaders for lack of coordination over the closure of factories exposing thousands of readymade garment workers to health risks and other hazards during the nationwide shutdown aimed at fighting the spread of the new virus, said the minister.

She asked the law enforcement agencies to ensure social distancing and implementation of mandatory quarantine guidelines for coronavirus suspects. 

Hasina asked the principal secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office Ahmad Kaikaus for a meeting with the authorities concerned to reach a concrete decision and give a clear instruction over the closure of factories in the export-oriented apparel sector on the day.

‘If anyone in an area is detected with COVID-19, the particular area should be under complete lockdown,’ the minister quoted the PM as saying in the meeting, attended by relevant ministers only, including commerce  minister, finance minister, planning minister, law minister, home minister, science and technology minister and fisheries minister.

The PM’s instructions came a day after an apparent indecision by the factory owners and lack of coordination among the government agencies which only multiplied the sufferings of readymade garment workers drawing huge criticisms from labour rights groups as reported in the media.

Thousands of workers on Friday and Saturday were forced to return to their work locations in Dhaka and its adjacent areas amid the countrywide shutdown just to know on the following day that many of them were shut in the morning to their utter disappointment.

The government on several occasions announced that RMG factory owners would decide whether they should continue operations during the public holiday from March 26 to April 14 as all modes of public transports were also banned during the period.

‘Law enforcement agencies and the administration have been asked to take measures to ensure strict implementation of the directives to maintain social distancing and guidelines for quarantine. They have also been directed to conduct massive campaigns in rural areas simultaneously,’ cabinet secretary

Khandker Anwarul Islam told a press briefing at the secretariat after the cabinet meeting.

Military forces have already been deployed to aid the civil administration to ensure social distancing and self-quarantine for coronavirus suspects across the country.  

The numbers of coronavirus deaths and infections kept soaring in Bangladesh with three new deaths and 35 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours until 8:00am Monday.

So far, the new coronavirus has taken 12 lives and infected 123 people as the virus spread to 15 districts of the country with cluster transmissions confirmed in various areas.

Cluster transmissions have been confirmed in cities like Dhaka and Narayanganj as well as in outlying districts such as Madaripur and Gaibandha.

Anwarul said since the coronavirus situation worsened to some extent in the country, it would in no way be possible to keep the situation under control without the wholehearted support from people. 

He said no devotee from distance should go to mosques to say prayers. ‘Imams and Moazzins as well as several nearby persons are there who can go to mosques,’ he said after the cabinet meeting that also fixed the office timing for the holy month of Ramadan beginning later this month.

On April 1, the jail authorities recommended to the government to free at least 4,450 inmates, 1,450 of them served 20 years and 3,000 others were jailed for minor offences, said a senior prison official, adding that the recommendation was made under Section 569 of the Jail Code.

News Courtesy: www.newagebd.net

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