The government has decided to curtail the "Mujib Year" programme, marking the birth centenary celebration of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, amid coronavirus fear.
"The decision has been taken considering the global coronavirus situation," said Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, the chief coordinator of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee, at a press briefing on Sunday night.
Earlier the decision was taken in a meeting of the committee in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana at Ganobhaban in the evening.
During the briefing, Kamal Abdul Naser said, "The grand inaugural ceremony of the birth centenary celebrations scheduled for March 17 will be held later at the National Parade Ground."
He also said, "The March 17 programmes will be held in Dhaka and across the country with reduced number of participants. Other programmes will continue throughout the year avoiding massive public gatherings."
Kamal Abdul Naser further said the foreign guests will not join the March 17 inaugural programmes, but they will come here later at any suitable time to join the year-long celebrations. Heads of the government of different countries, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were scheduled to join the Mujib Year celebrations.
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh diagnosed its first cases of the novel coronavirus as three persons – including two members of one family – have been infected with the virus.
Two of the infected persons are expatriates who recently returned from Italy. The other is one of their family members, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed to the media on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 3,500 people, and infected over 105,000, the majority in mainland China.