The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) has taken an initiative to distribute free face masks across the country to combat the spread of coronavirus infection.
The distribution will start next Sunday, said Mohammad Hafizullah Khan, project director of Bida's Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Project under which the initiative has been taken.
Entrepreneurs trained under the project and RMG entrepreneurs, who are commercially connected with them, will provide most of the masks made locally by unused cloth, Hafizullah added.
"Initially, we have got a commitment for 20 lakh masks from the owners of different garment factories and some of the entrepreneurs," he said at the inaugural ceremony of the initiative at the Bida conference room yesterday.
"We took the initiative from our social responsibility. Our aim is to distribute free masks as many as we can," he added.
Young entrepreneurs trained under the project and their training coordinator will conduct the distribution with the help of the local administration.
Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam chaired the inaugural event; many entrepreneurs of the Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Project and representatives from RMG factories were present, among others.
Md Sirazul Islam said, "We are mainly dependent on China for surgical masks, which is being suggested by doctors to combat the virus. But panic over the coronavirus has pushed up the prices of surgical masks and caused a huge shortage of supply.
"So, these locally made masks could give mental support to the people in this crucial time when the virus is spreading and everyone is panicked."
RMG entrepreneurs said it is quite possible to provide free masks made of unused cloth if the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association come forward.
Bangladesh confirmed its first death from the coronavirus on April 18. As per the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, three new patients were detected with the infection yesterday, raising the total number of infected people to 20.