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1 April, 2020 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 April, 2020 01:24:28 PM


Holiday may be extended till Apr 9

Hasina talks to field officials on coronavirus thru videoconference
UNB, Dhaka
Holiday may be extended till Apr 9

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government-declared holiday to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 might be extended till April 9. "We've announced a 10-day holiday, but this might be extended for 14 days. We might extend it till April 9 with some relaxation for some sectors on limited basis," she said while holding a videoconference with the officials of 64 districts to coordinate the ongoing activities to contain coronavirus from her official residence Ganobhaban in the capital.

The government on March 23 declared general holidays from March 26 to April 4. The government announced holidays for five days from March 29 to April 2. March 26 was a public holiday on the occasion of Independence Day, while March 27 and 28, and April 3 and 4 are weekends that merged with the five-day holiday. But kitchen markets, food shops, pharmacies, hospitals and all emergency services are out of the purview of the general holidays.

The Prime Minister said the holiday may be extended because many people went to their villages.

"We've to count the quarantine period in this connection so that there should not be any outbreak of COVID-19," she said.

She also said that with that extension of holidays the communication system has to be open on limited basis.

"We've to think before declaring those relaxed sectors from the purview of the holiday," she said.

The prime minister said the government has taken its steps to prevent spreading of COVID-19 from the very beginning and for that reason there has not been many cases in the country.

"We've to look after the matter so that this COVID-19 could not break out in the country in future. We've to continue this (holidays) and take this sufferings for some days more," she said.

In this connection, she said the extension of holidays will be done to ensure that there will be no more death from COVID-19.

Bangladesh has so far confirmed five coronavirus deaths and 49 cases.

"We're taking this decision for the welfare of all," she said.

She, however, said that offices would remain open in limited way. "I'll look in

to this matter what we can do regarding this. We’ll take steps so that the ways of income of the people remain open,” she said.

BSS adds: All were requested to stay at home during the holidays unless they have a good reason to leave their homes to buy essentials such as food and for medical and health care purposes as the kitchen markets, food shops, pharmacies, hospitals and all emergency services remained out of the purview of the general holidays.

The premier, however, sounded a note of warning against any sort of corruption and irregularity in distributing foods among the destitute people, particularly the day-laborers’.

“No corruption and irregularity in this regard will be tolerated anymore. We will not spare anyone, whoever he or she might be, involved in doing so to be rich or wealthy capitalising on the bad time of the people,” she added.

She has asked all to be alert to this end.

The prime minister also ordered to prepare a separate list of the people who are out of the social safety network programme such day labourers, rickshaw pullers, transport workers, tea-stall vendors to reach essentials to them so that none remains hungry due to the shutdown.

“I am requesting all, including the deputy commissioners (DCs), to work accordingly regarding the social safety net programme. Beside the programme (social safety net), we will have to reach foods to the people such as daily wage-earners, rickshaw pullers, transport workers who have become jobless due to coronavirus situation. It must be ensured that no one remains hungry along with the family,” she continued.

The premier instructed the authorities concerned to ensure that none is left out of the list, adding food distribution will have to be made in a coordinated way and it must be ensured that no single person can get food again and again.

She also asked the authorities concerned to ensure additional allocation of foods to meet the growing demand. She said that currently there is no scarcity of food in the country as there is enough stock.

Hasina urged all, particularly the affluent people, to join hands with the government to this end.

The prime minister has directed all to celebrate the Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bengali New Year, digitally without creating any mass gatherings, in response to the government “stay-at-home” guideline.

“You can celebrate the Pahela Baishakh digitally as much as you want. But, the celebration by creating mass gatherings must be stopped (as mass gatherings have been prohibited considering the coronavirus situation),” she added.

The prime minister, however, said that they have started celebrating the Pahela Baishakh by ignoring many hurdles, adding, “But it is a matter of sorrow that we have to stop the celebration this time due to coronavirus situation. We have stopped it considering the welfare of the people.”

In this context, the premier said that the government has suspended all the programmes of the “Mujib Year” marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the programmes of the Independence Day and the historic March 7 because of the COVID-19 situation and observed the programmes in a different way.

She said there is no need to use the personnel protection equipment (PPE) by all except the health activists, nurses and physicians who are entrusted with giving treatment to the people infected by the coronavirus.

She asked the authorities concerned to create awareness about the use of PPE.

The prime minister asked the public representatives and others concerned to take necessary measures to check the mosquito menace.

Hasina said there is a possibility of starting mosquito menace in the summer and the monsoon, and the situation may aggravate further if dengue adds to corona.

“So, you’ll have to take steps from now on to protect the people from the mosquitoes,” she said.

In this connection, the premier advised the people to use mosquito nets while sleeping.

Hasina instructed the agriculture minister to take necessary measures from now to boost agriculture production.

 “Many countries of the world are likely to face shortage of foods due to the coronavirus pandemic, and at that time we may have to supply foods. So, we’ve to give attention to this end from now on,” she said. The prime minister asked all to make sure that no arable land across the country is left out of the cultivation.

In reply, Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque said they have directed the officers and employees concerned not to go home and help continue agriculture production.

Noting that there is no shortage of foods in the country, the minister hoped that more Boro crops will be harvested this year than the previous season.

 “We’ve also taken initiatives to increase Aush production and I’ve firm belief that there won’t be any crisis of food due to the outbreak of the deadly disease,” he said.

The premier said the world is going to witness an economic recession due to the coronavirus pandemic, and its impact may fall on Bangladesh too.

 “Hence, from now on we’ll have to take measures to face this impact,” she said.

About the continuation of production in mills and factories during this period, Hasina said their production could be kept up through discussion and maintaining the health safety of the workers and employees.

While exchanging views with public representatives and officials of the Sylhet district, the prime minister said the tea workers could continue their work by maintaining (social) distance among themselves.

The prime minister asked all concerned to ensure the supply of essentials to keep the prices under control.

 “We have to ensure plenty of supply so that the prices of essentials can be brought under control and within the capacity of the people. It will be inhuman to get more benefit by hiking the prices of essentials cashing on the sufferings of the people. I personally believe that you will see the matter humanitarianly,” she said.

Regarding the law and order, the premier said, “Law enforcers must be aware in maintaining the law and order. Special attention should be given so that none can commit crimes taking the advantage of this bad time. The activities regarding coronavirus will also be continued as usual.”

Officials of local administrations highly praised the prime minister for her timely measures in containing the coronavirus while she (prime minister) said that there was no crisis of anything including the PPEs at this moment.

A youth, who returned home from Germany with coronavirus infection shared his experience through the video conference how he recovered from the diseases in Bangladesh.

The premier gave a patient hearing to all and thanked the civil and military officials for making their best efforts in fighting the coronavirus, saying, “The situation of Bangladesh is well in comparison to many developed countries due to the efforts of all.”

Information Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud, Agriculture Minister Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Local Government and Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Md Tazul Islam and State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr. Md Enamur Rahman were connected to the video conference from Bangladesh Secretariat.

PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the function while Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, along with senior secretaries and secretaries, was also added to the video conference from the Secretariat. Newly elected Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam was connected from the office of divisional commissioner of Dhaka.

Among others, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, PM’s personal physician Professor Dr ABM Abdullah and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah were present at Ganabhaban.




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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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