The government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown by another week to 28 April as infections keep surging.
The fresh lockdown will be enforced from 22 April after the ongoing phase ends on 21 April.
The decision was taken in an inter-ministerial meeting after the national technical advisory committee on Covid-19 recommended the lockdown be extended by another seven days.
The announcement would be made following approval from high-ups of the government.
"The lockdown will remain in force from 22 to 28 April with the same restrictions imposed in the previous week. It will be a tougher one," said State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain.
The summary of Monday's decision has been sent to the prime minister and a gazette will be issued once it gets her approval, he said.
However, the government has also been considering relaxing the ongoing all-out restrictions ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, said Awami League's General Secretary Obaidul Quader at a press briefing on Monday.
Bangladesh reported more than 100 fatalities in the last four consecutive days. On Monday, the single-day highest 112 deaths were reported. The Covid-19 death toll reached 10,497 in the country with a fatality rate of 1.45%, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The first three weeks of February this year were a relief for the government and health workers with 2.80% positive cases on average. However, since then, the infection rate has been increasing. On Monday, it marked 17.68%. On 9 April, Bangladesh saw an infection rate of 23.57%, the highest ever in 2021.
On 14 April, Bangladesh enforced the countrywide complete lockdown when 1 out of 5 tested people came with Covid-19 positive result. Currently, although the infection rate is declining, the death toll is increasing. On Monday, Bangladesh sets another grey record with 112 more deaths.
Amid these record-breaking deaths and infections, the government has decided to extend the lockdown by another week to curb infections.
In the first week of April, the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 recommended a two-week strict lockdown as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country harder in recent weeks.
But the government imposed an apparently loose nationwide lockdown for one week from 5 April as part of its move to contain its spread.
The government allowed the resumption of public transport in city corporation areas from 7 April as well as reopening shops and shopping malls for five days from 9 April in the face of protests against the lockdown.
Later, following the deteriorating situation, the government initially enforced the weeklong stricter lockdown measures on 14-21 April.
At a virtual meeting on Sunday, the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 recommended extending ongoing strict lockdown for another week. The committee raised grave concern over the high infection and the growing number of deaths across the country.
Following the recommendation, the secretaries of different ministries suggested extending the ongoing strict lockdown for one more week as Covid-19 deaths and cases are still spiralling in Bangladesh. A meeting of the secretaries, led by the cabinet secretary, took the decision on Monday.
Chaos on roads, traffic congestion too
Dhaka saw another day of chaos and traffic congestion in several intersections on the sixth day of the current lockdown. An increased number of private vehicles moved on Airport Road, Banani, Gulshan, Baily Road, Shahbagh and Dhanmondi areas on Monday.
Liton Matin, inspector (Patrol) of Banani Police Station, told The Business Standard that a large number of people were coming out of home without any emergency or they were not under the 18 permitted categories.
"In the last two days at Banani check-posts, police have collected fines amounting to Tk34,000 and Tk11,000 on Sunday and Monday respectively. During the very first few days, people were law-abiding. Day by day the number of people on roads is increasing," he added.
"Amid the strict lockdown, I cannot imagine waiting at the Kawran Bazar intersection for more than five minutes because of a traffic jam," said Afsar Ali, an office-going private sector emergency service employee.
"I have to go to the office for an emergency, which is really unavoidable and that is why I am right now in this signal. But, normally, we see many are coming out of home and without having an emergency they are just purposeless wandering."
"It is also right that many are coming out in search of livelihoods and we cannot ask them to stay indoors when they are hungry and facing acute food crises," he added.
It was the middle of the day, city residents were coming out for livelihood, daily shopping, office purpose, medical emergency and so on.
In the early afternoon, they were also seen purchasing Iftar items without maintaining any sort of social distancing in most cases.
"Children are used to having regular Iftar items and today requested to buy them special food, for this reason, their mom and I are collecting some frozen food. It is relatively safe in this Covid time," businessman Nazrul Islam from Moghbazar said TBS when the young couple was shopping from Shwapno.
"In this holy Ramadan, we are mainly dependent on Baily Road's delicious Iftar items, but this year due to the movement restrictions, we cannot go there. Undoubtedly, this lockdown for the betterment of all of us but the government should think from a realistic perspective and look forward to what would be the best implementation strategy so far."
Businessmen in Chattogram demand reopening of markets
Chattogram businessmen have demanded the reopening of all market and shopping malls in Chattogram from April 22.
The business leaders made the demand at a press conference at the Chattogram Press Club on Monday under the banner of the "Integrated Traders Association: Sammilito Babsayi Sanggothon".
"We believe that if factories, kitchen markets and banks can be kept open in accordance with health hygiene, the traders will find a way to survive if they are instructed to keep markets and shops open during the month of Ramadan - what is vital for businesses. Otherwise, the government's decision to declare a continuous lockdown will have no choice but to allow traders to commit suicide," they added.
Earlier on Sunday, Bangladesh Shop Owners' Association demanded the reopening of all shopping malls, shops and markets across the country from 22 April.
All shops and markets across the country remain closed during the lockdown, while online sales will be allowed only after maintaining hygiene rules. Besides, kitchen markets and grocery shops will remain open from 8 am to 4 pm daily.