In a major move to contain deadly consequences of COVID-19, the government has banned all mass gatherings - social, political, cultural and religious - to stop spreading of novel coronavirus. Mosques and others places of worships, including mandir and pagoda, will remain out of the purview of the ban. But the people, who are suffering from fever, cold and flue, have been asked to offer their prayers at home following the directives of the Islamic Foundation.
Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus made the announcement while moderating a video conference from the Prime Minister Office along with senior officials to devise the best possible mechanism to face the COVID-19, local media reported.
Local administrations have also been asked to maintain close monitoring of the overseas returnees who entered the country in the last one month or 15 days and also ensure their 14 days compulsory quarantine at home or healthcare facilities.
The government has already sent a district-wise list of the returnees of the last three months. If necessary, the local administration will monitor the movement of those Bangladeshi expatriates, who returned home in the last three months.
The government also asked the authorities concerned to bring the people, who are violating the government instructions, under legal action.
It also asked them to closely monitor the first and other contacts of the returnees side by side with making a close surveillance on the markets so that none could hike the price of essentials capitalizing on the situation due to the coronavirus outbreak. There is enough storage of essential goods in the country, it said.
The meeting also stressed on intensifying the campaign involving union- level committees, all the field-level officials, public representatives and teachers to make people aware about the measures to be taken to protect themselves from the lethal virus.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam along with secretaries of different ministries was connected with the video conference from Bangladesh Secretariat.
Divisional commissioners, deputy inspector generals of police of various ranges and deputy commissioners, civil surgeons and police supers of all the districts were connected with the video conference from their respective districts.
The Cabinet Secretary asked the local administration to punish the people who will violate the home quarantine provision as per the Section 269 of the Penal Code.
According to the Section 269 of the Penal Code, whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both, he said.
Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus asked the authorities concerned including local administration and police to strengthen the close monitoring on the expatriate-prone areas such as Madaripur, Shariatpur, Jhenaidah, Sylhet and Magura to check spreading of coronavirus.
He also asked the local administration to collect the names and addresses of the returnees from abroad alongside asking the police to bring the suspects of coronavirus into isolation immediately.
About public transport movement, he said, so far the government’s decision is that the transports will not be stopped rather the persons having fever, cough and influenza are suggested not to use the public transports.
Even transport workers having such symptoms are advised to refrain from their works in their vehicles, he added.
The other directives he made include step up monitoring on land ports alongside airports, follow proper protocols in case of disposal of dead body of Coronavirus infected patients, not to disclose names of infected persons so that they would not be subjected to social stigma.
The Principal Secretary said the Prime Minister in the meeting of National Economic Council refused to go on separate immune system.
“I’m with the nation. It doesn’t need separate immune system for me. I’m with all,” he quoted the PM as saying. “There is no scope to consider me separately,” she said when concern was raised about her protection following the detection of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Kaikaus said that the permanent directives and standing guidelines have been issued to take appropriate measures to face the coronavirus. He simultaneously called for distributing health related guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the coronavirus.
The principal secretary said that a national committee headed by the health minister has already started working to this end and the committee has been working up to upazila levels across the country.
Kaikaus has asked the health ministry to send the kits for Coronavirus test and personnel protection equipments including masks, head covers and gloves to the doctors in the hospitals across the country. He asked the local administration to contact with the monitoring cell under the supervision with a Brigadier General at the PMO round-the-clock in case of any necessary.
Speaking on the occasion Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said that they have already banned on-arrival visas for all the countries till Mar 31, adding it might be further extended.
The Bangladeshi missions abroad have been working to discourage Bangladeshi expatriates for not returning home at this moment.
Information Secretary Kamrun Nahar said from the day of outbreak of coronavirus in China, the information ministry has been working to conduct mass awareness campaign by broadcasting two video clips and discussions through the state-owned media.
Speaking on the occasion, Inspector General of Police said that they are going to collect non-erasable ink to use those to put a seal of the returnees from abroad, who are needed to be kept in quarantine so that people can easily identify them following the directive of the cabinet secretary.