Bangladesh imposed its strictest closure ever earlier this month to deal with the increase in cases and fatalities by COVID.
Bangladesh will lift its coronavirus blockade nationwide for the country’s second-largest religious festival, the government said on Tuesday, even as new infections soared to record levels.
The cabinet said all restrictions will be reduced in the country to 169 million people from Thursday, ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival to be held July 20-22 this year.
Removing the curbs would “normalize economic activities” before the celebrations, he added.
Tens of millions of people often return to their villages to mark Eid al-Adha with their families.
Bangladesh imposed its strictest closure ever earlier this month as new COVID-19 cases and deaths rose to all-time highs.
Under closure, people were only allowed to leave their homes for emergencies and buy commodities, with public transportation, shops and offices closed.
Infections continue to rise
But infections have continued to rise, with nearly 14,000 people testing positive on Monday (a new daily record), bringing the total number of cases to just over a million.
The death toll has exceeded 16,600. But experts say the actual figures could be much higher in the case of fear of not reporting.
Mohammad Shahidullah, who heads a health committee advising the government on how to manage the pandemic, said his panel opposed moderating the closure.
“The committee is of the opinion that this strict blockade should be continued until there is a declining trend in infections,” Shahidullah told AFP.
“In the middle of the closure, there is a growing trend of infections and fatalities. The level of infection is still very high.
It is also feared that the crowds at the markets to buy animals for slaughter and large gatherings during the festival will become widespread events.
Revived vaccination impulses
The announcement came when authorities restarted the country’s COVID-19 vaccine, which virtually stopped in late April after suspending imports of shots from neighboring India to meet local demand amid of a huge increase in viruses.
The recovered inoculation program kicked off on a large scale on Tuesday with two million shots of Sinopharm coming from China and 2.5 million Modern doses from the United States through the COVAX program.
To date, 4.2 million people in Bangladesh have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine purchased or donated in India. 1.6 million more have been shot.
In nearby Bhutan, half a million doses of Moderna arrived in the United States late Monday via COVAX.
They are expected to shoot more in Denmark, Croatia, Bulgaria, China and several other countries.
In the second most infected nation in the world, India, where cases have dropped from record highs in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned people to flock to the northern Himalayan states to escape the heat hot summer.
“The virus does not go and comes out by itself … We take it with us when we disobey the rules. Experts repeatedly warn us that careless behavior, such as overcrowding, will lead to an increase in COVID cases, ”he said Tuesday during a meeting with state leaders.