Bangladesh to lift lockdown for festivals despite constant rise in cases

Bangladesh to lift lockdown for festivals despite constant rise in cases

Bangladesh to lift lockdown for festivals despite constant rise in cases

Bangladesh will lift its nationwide coronavirus lockdown for the country’s second-biggest religious festival, the government said Tuesday, even as new infections soared to record levels. The cabinet said all restrictions would be eased in the Muslim-majority country of 169 million people from Thursday, ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival which will be celebrated from July 20 to 22 this year.

Bangladesh imposed its strictest-ever lockdown at the start of the month as new Covid-19 cases and deaths climbed to pandemic highs. Under the lockdown, people were only allowed to leave home for emergencies and to buy essentials, with public transport, shops and offices shut.

The death toll has risen above 16,600. But experts say the real figures could be much higher amid fears of underreporting. Mohammad Shahidullah, who heads a health committee that advises the government on how to manage the pandemic, said his group of experts opposed the easing of the lockdown.

During the temporary unlock public transports will ply on a limited scale, shops, stores and malls will be allowed to open on the condition of maintaining health guidelines and cattle markets will be operational across the country.

The revived inoculation programme kicked off on a large scale on Tuesday with two million shots of Sinopharm from China and 2.5 million Moderna doses from the United States via the Covax programme. So far, 4.2 million people in Bangladesh have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine bought or donated from India.