Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed her annoyance over the supply of fake N95 masks to a Dhaka hospital treating coronavirus patients and asked relevant authorities to enquire into the anomaly.
"The packets were labelled as having N95 masks, but the products inside were different. I have sent some photos to our [health] minister. Did the suppliers give the right products? You have to look into it," she told health ministry officials.
"You are sending personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals but you have to check whether the right product is being provided," the premier told officials, referring to the supply of substandard PPE to Mohanagar Hospital at Dhaka's Babubazar dedicated to treat Covid-19 patients.
It has not been right if this has happened really, she said during a videoconference with administrations and public representatives of eight districts in Dhaka and Mymensingh from her official residence Ganabhaban.
After her instructions, Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus asked the ministry officials, including the health secretary, to report on the issue within a day.
In her speech, the prime minister said the government decided to procure 21 lakh tonnes of food grains in the current season to ensure food security in the country and fair prices of farmers' produce.
She also announced that secretary-level officers will monitor the relief work at district levels. And, the government has already assigned officers for every district who will directly report to the premier.
Sheikh Hasina said, "The harvesting [of Boro paddy] has begun. We will purchase 21 lakh tonnes of food grains this season so that the country does not experience any food crisis in future and we could continue extending food assistance to the people."
Of the amount, the government will purchase 8 lakh tonnes of paddy, 10 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice, 2.20 lakh tonnes of sunned rice and 80,000 tonnes of wheat.
Sheikh Hasina urged the people to produce more food, noting that the world might face a famine in the coming days as coronavirus may create a food shortage.
Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on producing and preserving food to face the possible food crisis in the post-coronavirus regime.
Referring to steps to harvest the paddy in the field, she asked the law enforcing agencies to cooperate in this regard as food is a very much important issue at this moment.
Sheikh Hasina also urged all not to be worried about a food shortage during the holy month of Ramadan. "We will not face any shortage in food as we have enough stock."
While talking to an official of Sholakia Eidgah in Kishoreganj district, Sheikh Hasina said, "Sholakia used to hold the largest Eid congregation every year, but this year we may not be able to hold it."
The premier said the people will have to stay alert so that the deadly virus does not spread further. "Bangladesh is still in a better condition compared to other countries in the 7th week of the pandemic. If the people remain more careful, we can tackle the situation easily."
She mentioned all initiatives, including support measures and stimulus packages for different sectors, taken by her government to overcome the Covid-19 crisis.
While talking to the administration and public representatives of Mymensingh, she asked the authorities concerned to arrange training for physicians, nurses and other health workers dealing with coronavirus patients about keeping them and their families protected.
The prime minister also asked them to strengthen measures for proper transportation and accommodation for physicians, nurses and health workers. She suggested using minibuses and microbuses to carry the health workers.
Conducted by Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, the programme was also attended by Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah and other high officials.