The Bangladesh government is unwilling to consider lockdown again because it wants to keep the country's economy afloat, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul told journalists on Tuesday.
Making the remark in consideration of a possible second wave of Covid-19 cases during the upcoming winter season, he added that the government would rather work to increase awareness in the populace to stem the outbreak.
Bangladesh reported 1,557 new Covid-19 cases and 28 more deaths on Tuesday, raising the tally of cases to 352,178 and death toll to 5,007. The death rate now stands at 1.42%, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The cabinet division, on the same day, directed the authorities concerned to formulate a work plan for a possible second wave of Covid-19 infections, feared to begin in October-November.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said the work plan is a precaution for the second wave of infections, but no more lockdown will be enforced and the principal target is to keep the economy running.
He continued, "We are not certain that the second wave will come, but we have to sort out our programmes on what to do if the second wave arrives. We have tasked authorities concerned to prepare their work plans within the next seven to ten days.
Providing more details, Khandker Anwarul Islam said, "Firstly, the work plan includes clinical measures if the virus spreads further, and how the cases would be treated. Secondly, it includes a treatment plan focusing on winter diseases like asthma, pneumonia and influenza, and how these could be handled.
"Thirdly, we have to carry out massive promotional campaigns so that people follow the health guidelines issued by the health ministry, including wearing masks, maintaining distance and other health practices."
He continued, "Fourthly, we are preparing a work plan for enforcement, and how the civil administration, local administration, police and the army will ensure the enforcement of the measures.
"And, how we would take precautionary measures for people at the ports of entry – as a large number of people are entering and leaving the country – so that the virus cannot enter from outside."
The army has a wide network at the airports and they are taking measures. They would prepare for how it could be handled if the situation escalates, he added.
A primary guideline has been given to the concerned authorities based on the Prime Minister's directives about the second wave of infections.
Asked if the enforcement would be intensified, he said, "No, it will depend on the scenario. Our main point is that we will keep our economy running."
Bangladesh's Covid-19 death toll exceeds 5,000
Bangladesh reported its maiden Covid-19 cases on March 8 and first death on March 18. It took the virus 199 days to cross the 5,000-mark of deaths since it made inroads into the country.
Deaths from the novel coronavirus crossed 1,000 on June 10. Just 25 days later, on July 5, the country recorded a death toll of 2,000; then it took only 23 days to reach the 3,000-mark and 4,000 deaths were recorded on August 25.
The latest daily infection rate is 10.99% and the overall rate stands at 19.05%.
A total of 14,164 samples have been tested in 102 labs across the country in the past 24 hours till Tuesday at 8am. So far, 1,848,487 samples have been tested.
The 28 novel coronavirus patients – 17 men and 11 women – died in different hospitals during the 24-hour period, read a press release issued by the DGHS.
Moreover, 18 of them hailed from Dhaka, four from Chattogram, three from Khulna, and one each from the Rajshahi, Sylhet and Rangpur divisions.
Meanwhile, 2,073 patients were declared free of the novel coronavirus in the 24-hour period. The total number of recoveries has reached 260,790 while the recovery rate is 74.05%.
The gender breakdown of the deceased shows that 3,890 were men and the rest were women.
The data related to division-wise fatalities shows that: 2,467 victims hailed from Dhaka, 1,039 from Chattogram, 420 from Khulna, 332 from Rajshahi, 235 from Rangpur, 222 from Sylhet, 185 from Barishal, and 107 from Mymensingh.