Bangladesh capital wears deserted look as strict lockdown begins amid Bengali New Year

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by Naim-Ul-Karim

DHAKA, April 14 (Xinhua) — Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Wednesday wore a completely deserted look as the government enforced a strict lockdown to help curb the spread of the second wave of COVID-19, asking people not to venture out unless they have an emergency.

The recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases prompted the government to enforce the strict lockdown that began Wednesday, the first day of the Muslims’ holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Amid an upswing in the fresh cases, the Bangladeshi government said a maximum of 20 people can attend prayers at each masjid during Ramadan which is usually a month of festivity in the country after Bengali New Year.

The lockdown also began in the morning of Pohela Boishakh, the first day of the Bangla New Year, which is usually celebrated amid festivities every year on April 14, with only a few people on Dhaka streets amid the heavy presence of law enforcers.

Bangladesh authorities urged everyone to celebrate the New Year virtually by avoiding public gatherings in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Last year the usual Bengali New Year programs were also canceled to avoid mass gatherings.

Local TV stations reported that enforcement of the lockdown in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country was tight enough, shutting completely shopping malls and transport.

A few private vehicles were seen on the streets of Dhaka, which are usually clogged during the days of Ramadan.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police intercepted bikers and checked their documents.

Those who were walking towards their destinations were also being stopped and questioned by law enforcers to show “movement pass” issued by the police.

Only vehicles belonging to law-enforcement agencies, government officials and media were seen to run on the Dhaka streets with the addition of a few rickshaws.

Apart from domestic and international flights, river transport and railway operations were also suspended owing to the lockdown, with only emergency services remaining operational.

Bangladesh on Wednesday decided to allow special flights to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and Singapore to ensure that migrant workers can reach their destinations even though international flights have been suspended.

Bangladesh’s Cabinet Division on Monday issued a circular with a set of directives to be effective during the lockdown from 6:00 a.m. local time Wednesday to the midnight of April 21.

In line with the directives, all government, semi-government, autonomous and private offices will be closed but banks will operate for hours daily.

The new lockdown imposed with stricter rules demands the closure of markets and shopping malls, but allows restaurants and hotels to remain open from morning to evening but only for takeaway or online services.

No one will be allowed to go outside except for trips for the absolute necessity such as medicine and daily essentials, medical treatment, and burial or funeral.

According to the directives, all public transport services will be suspended, but goods-laden vehicles, production system and emergency services will not come under the purview of the lockdown.

Also offices, employees and transports involved in law and order enforcement and emergency services, relief distribution, health service, electricity, water, gas/fuel, fire service, activities at ports, telephone and Internet, telecommunication and other services will remain out of the purview of the restriction.

Factories and industries will remain open under the authorities’ arrangement, maintaining health safety guidelines.

New cases of COVID-19 continued to rise since the middle of last month as the country sees a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bangladesh on Wednesday reported 96 more deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily figure, bringing the death toll to 9,987.

Bangladesh reported 5,185 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, raising its total tally to 703,170. Enditem

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