COVID-19: Bangladesh extends shutdown until April 11

2 new coronavirus cases take country’s tally past 50, premier says essential operations will continue


DHAKA: Bangladesh on Tuesday extended a nationwide shutdown until April 11 to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the shutdown, announced on March 26 and due to end on April 4, was being extended for five more days, the state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency reported.

The shutdown, which the government continues to refer to as a “general holiday”, will officially end on Friday, April 9, but the next two days are the regular weekend.

The decision came as two more COVID-19 cases took Bangladesh’s tally to 51 on Tuesday. The country of around 165 million people has so far reported five deaths due to the coronavirus.

“We earlier announced a 10-day general holiday from March 26 and it is now extended for five days until April 9,” Hasina said in a video conference with civil administration officials of the country’s 64 districts.

She said the full shutdown will be eased on “a limited scale” to cater to the country’s essential needs.

“Everything cannot be stopped. The essential things will remain in operation, but all educational institutions will remain closed,” said the premier, adding that the situation will be reviewed on April 4.

She said industries must remain operational but with all precautionary measures. “We have to keep industries open for production of many essential goods. We must also ensure that nobody is allowed to hike up prices of daily commodities. We must behave humanely during this time of crisis,” Hasina stressed.

The premier also warned of an impending global financial crisis due to the disruption of economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To overcome that crisis, we have to pay attention to our agriculture sector. We have enough fertile land and sufficient manpower, but we must ensure that no piece of land anywhere in the country is left uncultivated,” she said.

She directed the Ministry of Agriculture to facilitate farmers and to provide them all necessary materials to ensure optimum output.