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POST TIME: 26 February, 2020 11:19:40 PM
‘COVID-19 won’t affect economy’
Countries affected by disease hit 40
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

‘COVID-19 won’t affect economy’

The effects of COVID-19 will not affect the economy and supply of essential products in Bangladesh, says a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday. This was the view that emerged from a high-level inter-ministerial meeting on ‘prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and the effects of COVID-19 on the economy of Bangladesh’. It was held on Monday at the PMO in the capital.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus situation improved in China while the number of countries affected by the disease hits 40 and the WHO warns the world is “simply not ready”. Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Ahmad Kaikaus presided over the meeting. Along with a number of secretaries of different ministries, divisions, and departments, the ERD chairman, NBR chairman, and Bangladesh Bank deputy governor also participated in the meeting. The finance secretary expressed optimism regarding the overall economic growth this year, as the implementation of the government’s ongoing mega projects, including annual development programmes and investment in the economic zones, appeared to be on course.

“Although there is a temporary disadvantage in the supply chain of the readymade garments sector due to COVID-19 in China, there are no possibilities of any negative impact on the production and export of garments,” the finance secretary said. “Bangladeshi businesses imported sufficient amounts of RMG packaging and accessory materials, yarns and raw materials, machinery and chemicals, and kitchen items before the Chinese New Year. So, there is a sufficient supply and stock of these products,” said the commerce secretary.

“We import these products also from India, Myanmar, Egypt, and Turkey. So, there is no possibility of any shortage of such items,” he added. On his part, Ahmad Kaikaus said, “Bangladesh has made the highest preparation to prevent COVID-19.  We have already told the health ministry to set up thermal scanners in all air, sea, and land ports, including HSIA.”

To achieve the economic growth target, the meeting emphasised that all ministries should formulate and implement their contingency plans and continue the trend of exports, imports, and remittance growth. It was mentioned that COVID-19 cases outside China were accelerating rapidly. The number of people infected elsewhere is rising quickly with clusters in South Korea, Italy, Iran, and a cruise ship docked in Japan. The massive outbreak of COVID-19 could affect the global economy.

AFP reports from Paris: There are some 80,000 infections worldwide, including nearly 2,800 outside China and more than 2,700 deaths worldwide, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization yesterday. The number of deaths in China has declined, with 52 deaths in the last 24 hours, the lowest count in more than three weeks. But the daily number of infections worldwide is higher than in China, the WHO said. In its latest count some 40 people had died outside mainland China since the start of the epidemic.

Cases of the virus have appeared in five new countries: Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Greece and Switzerland, bringing the number of countries hit to around 40.

South Korea announces more than 1,000 infections — by far the largest outside China — and 12 deaths.

Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe, has more than 370 cases and 12 deaths.

Iran announces a total of 19 deaths and 139 infections, including the country’s deputy health minister.