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Bangladesh is deploying troops to aid the civil administration enforce a nationwide lockdown to slow the rise in Coronavirus infections, the government said on Wednesday.

An adequate number of soldiers would be deployed for effective patrol alongside civilian forces during the shutdown, beginning on Thursday, according to an official notice.

It said offices and transportation would be shut during the seven-day lockdown, which excluded emergency services.

“No one will be allowed to leave home except for an emergency during this seven-day period,’’ the notice read.

According to the government, strict disciplinary action would be taken against those who flout the restrictions.

It however said that factories would be allowed to operate as long as the owners would ensure observance of COVID-19 protocols.

“Workers residing near the factories will be allowed inside the production units to keep the operations on,’’ said Faruque Hassan, head of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

The decision to implement the strict lockdown came after previous restrictions were observed loosely, and the arrival of the Delta variant worsened the coronavirus situation in June.

The government closed down city buses, malls, tourist sites, and banned large social gatherings to restrict people’s movement earlier on Monday, a week after it suspended long-haul buses, railway and ferry services.

Tens of thousands of people, however, struggle to leave the capital Dhaka and other large cities for their villages ahead of the seven-day lockdown.

A country of more than 160 million, Bangladesh’s embattled health-care system has carried out less than 6.6 million coronavirus tests since the first cases of COVID-19 emerged in March 2020.

Some 904,436 cases and 14,388 deaths had been reported so far, with the highest daily death toll of 119 reported on Sunday.

Nearly three months after rolling out mass vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab, Bangladesh had to abruptly suspend the campaign in late April after India halted its vaccine exports.

It resumed the programme on June 20 with more than one million doses of Sinopharm jabs donated by the Chinese government.

The South Asian country is now desperately looking for other countries to import vaccines from.


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