Coronavirus cases force Bangladesh to scale down 'Mujib Year' festivities

Anisur Rahman

Dhaka, Mar 8 (PTI) Bangladesh on Sunday decided to scale down preparations for the birth centenary celebrations of its founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, hours after three coronavirus cases were detected in the country.

The year-long celebrations were scheduled to open amid massive festivities at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka on March 17.

The grand opening was expected to be attended by several foreign dignitaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

'The planned celebrations for the Mujib Year have been rearranged in view of worldwide outbreak of coronavirus,' Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters.

'We will convey about the rearrangement of the planned opening of the celebrations to the foreign dignitaries, leaving it to them if they would come,' he said.

His remarks came after attending a meeting on the 'Mujib Year' celebrations chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Hasina directed the organisers to scale down the planned festivities, but the new venue for the inauguration of the celebrations is yet to be decided, chief coordinator of the celebration committee Kamal Abdul Naser told reporters.

Bangladesh has also invited former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Nepal's President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to address an extraordinary parliamentary session to mark the celebrations.

'There will be an opening function avoiding the mass gathering,' Naser said referring to the premier's directive at the meeting at her official Ganobhaban residence.

He said the foreign dignitaries, including the heads of state who were scheduled to attend the opening, were now expected to join the Mujib Year celebrations at a convenient time during the year-long celebrations.

Bangladesh on Sunday reported three cases of coronavirus. Two persons brought the disease from Italy, infecting the third one on their return home, officials said.

The infections, the first reported cases in the country, have come four days after Dhaka restricted entry of the people from major coronavirus-prone countries without a virus-free medical certificate.

After the cases were detected, the authorities decided that people coming from China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Iran and Thailand must stay in quarantine for 14 days for medical clearance. PTI AR MRJ MRJ