B'desh records 220 COVID deaths as govt plans to relax lockdown ahead of Eid

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Dhaka, Jul 12 (PTI) Bangladesh plans to ease the ongoing strict lockdown in view of the Eid-ul-Azha festival next week even as the country on Monday reported 220 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Bangladesh reported 13,768 COVID-19 cases, a new daily record, taking the tally to 1,034,957.

The country registered 220 new deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the total toll to 16,639, it said.

The single-day deaths had exceeded the 200-mark on July 7. The country has witnessed above 200 deaths for the fourth consecutive day on Monday.

Meanwhile, the government on Monday decided to relax the ongoing countrywide shutdown for seven days from Thursday to ease peoples movement and cattle transportation and marketing considering the Eid-ul-Azha.

'The strict restrictions will be eased from July 15 to 22, but will be toughened again from that day,' a brief official handout said, adding that details instructions would be issued on the decision on Tuesday.

An official familiar with the decision said trains and other public transports would be allowed to operate while shopping malls and stores could run businesses maintaining health guidelines. The cattle markets will also remain open.

However, after the Eid holidays, the strict lockdown will be in place again for 14 more days from July 23.

Eid-ul-Azha will be celebrated in Bangladesh on July 21.

Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan has said trains will resume operating at half passenger capacity in each compartment from Thursday. Tickets will only be available online.

On Friday, the health authorities proposed enforcement of a nationwide curfew as the ongoing shutdown appeared not adequate to contain the virus.

A senior DGHS official said that a 15-day countrywide curfew could have been the best move to contain the situation.

'This (pandemic) is a war and in war you do not consider the human rights factor,” said the official on the condition of anonymity.

Bangladesh is currently facing a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, prompting the government to impose its harshest lockdown yet. PTI AR ZH ZH

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