Bangladesh to deploy Army personnel to enforce COVID-19 lockdown

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Dhaka, Jun 30 (PTI) The Bangladesh government on Wednesday roped in the Army to enforce a nationwide seven-day-long lockdown as health officials reported record spike in single-day COVID-19 infections at 8,822 new cases and warned the situation could worsen in the coming weeks.

'The coronavirus claimed 115 lives, the second highest in a day, and infected 8,822 people in the last 24 hours,' a Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) spokesman said. The fresh fatalities have taken the country's pandemic death toll to 14,503.

According to data, Bangladesh's days of highest infection count were on Tuesday and Wednesday as the DGHS reported 7,686 new cases and 112 deaths on Tuesday.

'The infection rate today stands at 25.13 per cent (today), while it was 23.97 per cent yesterday,' the spokesman said.

The government earlier ordered a 'strict countrywide restriction' which the media dubbed as 'shutdown' from 6 am on July 1 to midnight on July 7, in an effort to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India.

A Cabinet division statement said no one would be allowed to leave home except for emergency cases during the shutdown adding that the Army troops, alongside police and other law enforcement agencies, would be on the street to enforce the lockdown.

'All government, semi-public and private offices are to be shut during the duration of the lockdown. Regular road, rail and water travel service is suspended,' the statement said.

It added that all shopping malls, tourist sites, resorts, community centres, social and religious events that draw crowds would come under the restriction.

The Army on Wednesday said troops would be deployed 'in aid to civil power' to enforce the restriction while administrative chiefs of districts would make necessary coordination for the deployment of personnel.

Bangladesh recorded the highest COVID-19-related deaths on June 27 at 119 fatalities. Since then, the daily death toll has exceeded 100 everyday, indicating increased transmission.

'Since the community transmission already took place, we don't expect a downward trend overnight unless the people could be forced to stay indoors,' Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) chief Professor Tahmina Shirin said.

Officials said districts bordering India initially witnessed the deteriorating scenario with hospitals particularly in southwestern Khulna and northwestern Rajshahi districts were overwhelmed with patients as infections spiralled from the Delta variant, which gradually engulfed the central districts, including capital Dhaka. PTI AR IND AKJ IND

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