Thousands are trapped in the Bangladeshi capital after authorities halted almost all public transport before a week-long shutdown imposed on Thursday to combat the deadly resurgence of COVID-19 infections began.
The country has reported pandemic highs of more than 8,300 new infections on Monday and 119 deaths on Sunday.
It has a total number of cases of almost 900,000 and only more than 14,000 deaths from COVID-19. But experts say the actual figures could be much higher due to possible misinformation.
Officials blame the recent rise in the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in neighboring India.
The majority of the South Asian country’s 168 million population will be confined to their homes on Thursday as part of the restrictions, with only essential services and some exporting factories.
Government Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said troops would be deployed from Thursday to help enforce the closure.
“The armed forces will be on patrol. If someone ignores their orders, there will be legal action, “he told reporters on Monday.
The announcement of the blockade sparked an exodus of migrant workers from Dhaka to their villages of origin on Sunday, with tens of thousands of people trapped in ferries crossing a large river.
The staggered implementation of the blocking rules forced thousands of workers in Dhaka to walk to their offices on Monday, sometimes for hours, in the warm summer heat.
Bicycle ricshaws were able to operate Sunday at a last-minute government concession, but prices rose to unbearable levels, travelers reported.
In mid-April, restrictions on activities and movements were imposed across Bangladesh, as cases and deaths reached their highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.
Infections declined in May, but began to rise again this month, causing tougher restrictions on the South Asian nation.
Health officials around the world have been alarmed by the rapid spread of the Delta variant, which the WHO has now reported has reached at least 85 countries.
More than two-thirds of new COVID-19 cases in the Bangladeshi capital were of the Delta variant, according to a recent study by the Dhaka-based International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research.