Thousands stranded in Bangladesh ahead of sweeping lockdown

16
Dhaka

Thousands of people were stranded in Bangladesh’s capital on Monday as authorities halted almost all public transport ahead of a sweeping lockdown imposed to combat a deadly resurgence of Covid-19 infections.

The country reported 119 deaths on Sunday, its highest-ever daily death toll from the pandemic, while new infections have been averaging around 5,000 for the past few days.
Officials blame the recent spike in cases on the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant first identified in neighbouring India.

The majority of the South Asian nation’s 168 million population will be confined to their homes by Thursday as part of the restrictions, with only essential services and some export-facing factories allowed to operate.

The lockdown announcement sparked an exodus of migrant workers from the capital Dhaka to home villages on Sunday, with tens of thousands of people cramming into ferries to cross a major river.

The staggered implementation of the lockdown rules left thousands of workers in Dhaka forced to walk to their offices on Monday, sometimes for hours, in the sweltering summer heat.

Large columns of people were seen walking on the main roads early Monday. Workplaces will be shut from Wednesday. Bicycle rickshaws were allowed to operate in a last-minute government concession late Sunday, but prices had soared to unaffordable levels, commuters said.

“I started walking at 7am. I could not get any bus or any other vehicles. I can’t afford a rickshaw ride,” Shefali Begum, 60, who was going to her daughter’s home in central Dhaka, said.

Restrictions on activities and movement were imposed across Bangladesh in mid-April as cases and deaths jumped to their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

More than two-thirds of new virus cases in Bangladesh’s capital were of the Delta variant, a recent study by the independent Dhaka-based International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research reported.—AFP

Previous articleWildlife protection important for nature’s conservation: CM
Next articleOutbreaks of Delta Covid variant feared