Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed everyone to remain alert to the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
The prime minister gave the directive during an unscheduled discussion at a cabinet meeting on Monday, said Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam at a briefing on the same day.
The prime minister joined the meeting virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban, while other ministers and officials concerned were connected from the secretariat.
When asked whether there was any special instruction in the cabinet meeting, the secretary said, "There has been a lot of discussion today [Sunday], especially on Omicron."
"It has been instructed to be very careful about it [Omicron] as it is spreading around the world," said Anwarul.
The Cabinet directed the authorities concerned to work on a precise guideline on the booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine in the country against the backdrop of rapid transmission of the new variant globally.
The National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 and the Health Ministry were instructed on it so that they remain ready for whether the booster dose will be given free or on payment and that they submit a guideline following discussions, said the cabinet secretary while briefing reporters in the secretariat after the meeting.
Since world's renowned scientists have recommended booster doses to remain immune from Covid-19, the meeting recommended paying special attention to how booster doses can be rolled out in Bangladesh.
Noting that two persons were detected with Omicron in Bangladesh, Anwarul said both of them are from Bangladesh Cricket Board, who entered the biosecure bubble at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon, directly from the airport. The two persons did not come in close contact with anyone at the airport.
Meanwhile, the government has a plan to start administering booster doses to frontliners and people aged over 60 first from this month, said Health Minister Zahid Maleque.
"Preparations are underway for booster doses. At present, there are 2,500 vaccination booths. I have instructed setting up 1,000 more," the minister told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday morning.
Earlier on 11 December, the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 advised the health ministry to do so.
The health minister, on 9 December, said the government will soon finalise the list of booster dose recipients to contain the spread of coronavirus infections.
Several countries, including the United States and Singapore, have started providing booster doses to various groups, including health workers, elderly and comorbid patients.
Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna that use mRNA technology provide the biggest boost to antibody levels when given 10-12 weeks after the second dose, a British study published on 2 December has found.
According to the World Health Organisation, the Omicron variant has so far been reported in 57 nations and the number of patients needing hospitalisation is likely to rise as it spreads.