Amid a second wave of Covid-19 infections, the total caseload worldwide has now surpassed the 95 million mark.
According to Johns Hopkins University (JHU), the total case count stood at 95,517,587 with 2,039,056 deaths as of Tuesday morning.
JHU data also indicates that the virus is surging in many regions and areas of 191 countries.
The total number of Covid cases in the United States topped 24,062,636 as of Tuesday, while the death toll climbed to 398,299.
California on Monday became the first state to record more than 3 million known coronavirus infections. The state with 40 million residents reached the 2 million mark on December 24.
The first coronavirus case in California was confirmed on January 25 last year. It took 292 days to get to 1 million infections on November 11 and 44 days to top 2 million.
California’s caseload is also far ahead of other large states. Texas had more than 2 million and Florida topped 1.5 million. The state has recorded more than 33,600 deaths related to Covid, reports AP.
The state health department announced Sunday that an L452R variant of the virus is increasingly showing up in genetic sequencing of Covid test samples from several counties.
The variant was first identified last year in California and in other states and countries, but has been identified more frequently since November and in several large outbreaks in northern California’s Santa Clara County, the department said.
Overall, the variant has been found in at least a dozen counties. In some places, testing has found the variant in a quarter of the samples sequenced, said Dr Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Brazil, which remained the second worst-hit country in terms of deaths, has so far registered more than 8.5 million Covid-19 cases, and nearly 210,299 deaths.
India, the third worst-hit country, recorded 10,571,773 cases while the death toll rose to 152,419, as per the latest data released by the Health Ministry.
Situation in Bangladesh
Bangladesh saw a daily infection rate of 5.49% with 697 new cases reported until early Monday.
The country recorded a daily infection rate of 4.90% on January 14, 8.29% on January 10, 7.52% on January 4, and 8.18% on January 1.
Bangladesh has recorded 528,329 cases so far. And the country’s fatality number rose to 7,922 and death rate to 1.50%, with 16 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, since the first fatality was reported on March 18.
So far, 3,470,160 tests, including 12,707 new ones, have been carried out. The overall infection rate stood at 15.22%, the Directorate General of Health Services said. However, 473,173 patients – 89.56% – have recovered so far.
The country’s infection number reached the 500,000-mark on December 20. The first cases were reported on March 8. The death toll exceeded 7,000 on December 12.
On the eve of discussions between Bangladesh and Myanmar on resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis, China, which provides the 'tripartite' framework to the dialogue, said it will continue to support the other two countries to find an early and durable solution.
China also assured that it will promote peace, development and prosperity in the region.
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming met Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday and discussed the issue.
The two sides also discussed the tripartite meeting to be held on Tuesday.
Bangladesh, Myanmar and China will hold a tripartite meeting virtually on Tuesday to discuss ways to expedite the Rohingya repatriation process.
The repatriation talks with Myanmar remained halted for nearly a year due to COVID-19 pandemic and general elections in Myanmar.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen will lead the Bangladesh delegation in the virtual meeting that is scheduled to begin at 2pm.
Vice Minister of China Luo Zhaohui will virtually join the meeting from Beijing with Bangladesh and Myanmar delegations, a senior official told UNB.
Also read: 2020: Another year of agony for Rohingyas
The international community finds the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar as the only solution to the crisis while Bangladesh wants to begin repatriation as soon as possible.
Bangladesh and China will share their ideas with Myanmar in the meeting to expedite the repatriation process.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh has handed over a list of 840,000 Rohingyas to Myanmar for verification.
"Myanmar has verified very few people. They're very slow. They verified only 42,000 people (5 percent). There’s a serious lack of seriousness," said the Foreign Minister.
Dr Momen said they are doing their part but Myanmar is not helping the same way. He said he is always hopeful of beginning repatriation as history says they took back their nationals in 1978 and 1992.
More than three years ago, Myanmar’s soldiers “targeted, killed, and raped” Rohingya and burned their villages, as the United Nations, Refugees International, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. State Department itself, and many others have documented.
Over 800,000 Rohingyas fled the “genocidal violence” and Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
Bangladesh is trying in multiple ways - bilaterally, multilaterally, tri-laterally and through the judicial system – to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017. They then signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland. But repatriation attempts failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 - clearly amid Rohingyas' "lack of trust" in the Myanmar government that things would be any different were they to return.
Subsequently during the 74th UNGA held in September, 2019 in New York, China took the initiative to propose the tripartite framework with their presence largely in an overseeing role, that can nevertheless hold both sides to account on their respective commitments to each other. The Bangladesh side had already complained of Myanmar acting in 'bad faith' during negotiations, whereby they never had any intention of taking the Rohingya back, and was only meeting to keep up appearances.
However soon after a meeting of the trio on January 20, 2020, the coronavirus lockdowns started taking effect in different parts of the world.
Chattogram Regional Election Office started a five-day training for 16,163 election officials to hold Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) polls smoothly.
The training programme will run at nine centres in the port city, said CCC polls Returning Officer Muhammad Hasanuzzaman.
He said that 5,902 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers along with 10,268 polling officers are being trained.
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be used in all the 735 polling centers in CCC elections.
Assistant Returning Officer Mohammad Humyun Kabir said that no-one will be allowed to carry out election duties without proper training.
The CCC election is scheduled for January 27.
A total of 236 aspirants are contesting the polls, including seven mayoral candidates.
There are 1,938,706 voters in the city corporation area.
Economic Affairs Adviser to the Honorable Prime Minister Dr Mashiur Rahman on Monday said centralisation approach is a constraint for CMSMEs development in Bangladesh and emphasised the importance of regional connectivity towards an inclusive, efficient and balanced development of the country.
Speaking at a webinar, he mentioned the necessity of linkage for both large enterprises and CMSMEs and put focus on the huge pressure on the only port in Khulna - Mongla port. He said this will ease with the operation of Payra Port.
Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Center of University of Dhaka organised the webinar titled “Closing Ceremony of the Eight Divisional Webinars and CMSMEs in Bangladesh: Journey, Challenges and Future Direction-Khulna Division” as part of its REVIVE Project, a joint collaboration of ICE Center and UNDP Bangladesh.
It was the final of the eight webinars organised as part of discussing the stories, challenges and future direction of CMSMEs in different regions of Bangladesh, according to a press release.
Dr Rahman mentioned the possibilities in fishing and fisheries surplus because of reduced international demand.
Also read: Create dynamic central database for CMSMEs
Certification and standardisation difficulties, unethical business practices, reduced viability in import because of rotten fish waste also came up in the discussion. He also pointed out problems such tax assessment related problems, lack of incubation centres in rural areas, limited opportunities, inefficient use of resources, tourism related problems.
Dr Rahman attended the webinar as the chief guest of the session while Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Md Sirazul Islam and Founder Director & Head of News at Channel i Shykh Seraj attended as special guests.
Dr Momtazuddin Ahmed, Honorary Professor of University of Dhaka attended as the keynote speaker for the programme. Other discussants include, Assistant Country Representatives of UNDP in Bangladesh Md Khurshid Alam; President of Khulna Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kazi Aminul Haque; and Chief Executive Officer of Khulna City Corporation (KCC) Palash Kanti Bala.
The session was presided by Dr Khondokar Bazlul Haque, Vice-Chairman of ICE Center and moderated by Md Rashedur Rahman, Executive Director, ICE Center.
Alternative channels for stimulus distribution
BIDA Executive Chairman Islam emphasised the importance of industry-academia collaboration towards economic independence of Bangladesh and requested Dhaka University to play the leading role.
He also requested to develop database of rural and urban entrepreneurs; urged to ignite the inner potentials of students, and hope that a planned effort after completion of the Padma Bridge will significantly improve the business environment of Bangladesh, according to the press release.
Also read: FBCCI to launch 'Tech C' to boost startups, CMSMEs
Shykh Seraj appreciated ICE Center for bringing “EMPATHY” and role of youth into the policy discussions, and shared the hardships of the rural entrepreneurs. While sharing his experience that the stimulus declared by the government didn’t reach the rural entrepreneurs who have suffered most, he urged to explore alternative channels of distributions.
Dr Momtazuddin Ahmed in his keynote speech mentioned that Khulna is going to be one of the major contributors in development after the completion of the Padma bridge. While emphasising the importance of focusing on “Bottom-Up” policy for CMSMEs, he urged to consider having an SME Bank, “SME Act” and its proper implementation.
Khurshid Alam of UNDP appreciated the government for the stimulus package efforts, and focused on the engagement of youth during crisis time, importance empathy, technological supports, mentorship and training of CMSMEs specially in vulnerable areas of the country.
Also read: 'Informal sectors need closer attention'
Palash Kanti Bala, Chief Executive Officer of Khulna City Corporation (KCC), while highlighting the ground breaking achievement from Padma bridge constructions, emphasised that this will connect and create a sustainable business economic environment of the region.
Executive Director of ICE Center Rashedur Rahman shared the virtual project REVIVE’s activities and outcome, and hoped that the outcomes of the project, if implemented, can uplift the CMSMEs in Bangladesh towards an Innovation Driven Entrepreneurial Bangladesh.
Vice-Chairman of ICE Center Dr Khondokar Bazlul Haque summarised the key points raised by the chief guests and other speakers, and concluded the closing ceremony of the Eight Divisional Webinars organised by ICE Center focusing on CMSMEs in Bangladesh.
A woman and her husband were killed after their motorcycle was hit by a passenger bus near the airport intersection in the capital on Monday.
The victims were identified as Akash Iqbal, 27, and his wife Maya Hazarika, 25.
The incident occurred around 7am on the main road in front of Padma Oil gate near the airport crossing when the couple was heading towards Khilkhet on a motorbike.
Akash and Maya died on the spot after their motorcycle was hit by a bus of Ajmeri Glory Paribahan, said Sub-Inspector Md Imran Hossain of Airport Police Station.
Police recovered the bodies and sent them to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for post-mortem examination, he said.
The bus was seized but its driver is on the run.
Akash worked at a private company in Baridhara DOHS and his wife was an employee of a residential hotel in airport area, according to Mizanur Rahman, cousin of Akash
They were going to their workplaces when the accident occurred.
They are survived by their 4-year-old daughter Afran.
Road accidents in Bangladesh
Road accidents in Bangladesh remains one of the leading causes of deaths in Bangladesh. In the last five years, 37,170 people were killed in 26,902 accidents across the country.
Besides, 82,758 people were injured in these accidents, according to a report released by Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (BJKS), a passenger welfare body, in October last year.
Also read: Road crashes kill 439 in Nov alone: Report
According to the report, 8,642 people were killed and 21,855 injured in 6,581 road accidents in 2015 alone.
In 2016, some 6,055 people were killed and 15,914 injured in 4,312 road accidents.
Road safety is a global development challenge. Every year, 1.35 million people worldwide lose their lives while driving, cycling, or walking on the road and another 50 million are seriously injured.
Also read: 1 killed in city road crash
A recent World Bank study has shown that for South Asia as a whole, a 50 percent reduction in road deaths would generate an estimated gross benefit of about $1.2 trillion.