Bangladesh on Saturday reported its second death from coronavirus and identification of four new patients, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 24.
The government has postponed programmes, including the Independence Day ceremonies, to prevent the spread of the virus which has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Health experts have suggested people to maintain social distancing and refrain from attending public gatherings as measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
‘1,400 in home quarantine’
Health Minister Zahid Maleque announced the latest coronavirus figures at a press briefing after an inter-ministerial meeting at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
"The total death from coronavirus infection in the country is now two. Four new patients have tested positive,” he said, adding that the latest victim, aged around 73, had comorbidity.
Maleque said 50 people are in institutional and around 14,000 others are in home quarantine.
He mentioned that the government is preparing Sheikh Russell Gastronomy Institute and Sheikh Hasina Burn Unit in DMCH for treating coronavirus patients.
The minister confirmed that two locations in Mirpur and Uttara have been selected for institutional quarantine.
"We’ve received seven machines for the diagnosis of the disease. These will be set up in new locations for testing people with coronavirus symptoms. But as these machines require sophisticated biosafety lab, we’ll need some time," he added.
He hoped that 400 ICUS will be set up soon.
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‘Don’t hoard food’
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reassured the people that the country has enough stock of everything and urged everyone not to hoard food grains and other essential items out of panic.
"Some people are scared… they’re procuring food items indiscriminately and piling them at home…I want to say it clearly that we’ve no problem in food items," she said after casting her vote in the Jatiya Sangsad by-polls to Dhaka-10 constituency at Dhaka City College.
‘Testing kits to be brought from China’
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said coronavirus testing kits and logistics to be brought from China by chartered flight any time.
He said leaves of officials of Health Ministry, Foreign Ministry and field-level officials have been cancelled.
This Chinese Emergency Humanitarian Aid Project includes coronavirus test kits for 10,000 people, 15,000 medical N95 masks, 10,000 medical protective clothing and 1,000 infrared thermometers, according to Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.
Independence Day ceremonies cancelled
A rise in coronavirus cases also forced the government to call off the Independence Day ceremonies, including placing wreaths at the National Memorial, on March 26.
A civic reception at Bangabhaban and a programme to distribute Swadhinata Padak have also been cancelled.
The decisions were taken after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a meeting with President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban in the evening.
Bangladesh announced cancellation of all international passenger flights until March 31 with 10 countries. The restriction will be effective from 12am on Sunday to restrict the spread of coronavirus in the country.
International commercial passenger flights with Malaysia, Oman Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, India, and Bahrain have been suspended, said Group Captain AHM Towhidul Ahsan, Director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Special JS session postponed
The two-day special session of Parliament, scheduled to begin Sunday on the occasion of the Mujib Borsho, was postponed.
“The Jatya Sangsad’s special session marking the birth centenary of Bangabandhu has been postponed,” President’s Press Secretary Joynal Abedin told reporters.
President Md Abdul Hamid postponed the special session in public interest to avoid the people’s gatherings.
CCC polls postponed
The Election Commission postponed the Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) election slated for March 29.
It also deferred by-polls to Bogura-1 and Jashore-6 constituencies, scheduled for the same day, the EC Secretariat said in a statement.
Besides, EC suspended by-elections to some local bodies, the mayoral posts of nine municipalities, which were scheduled to be held on March 29.
Bangladeshi expatriate dies in Italy
Bangladeshi expatriate Golam Mawla, 56, hailing from Noakhali’s Companiganj upazila, died from coronavirus at a hospital in Milan on Friday night.
Mountaineer Wasfia Nazreen tests positive
Bangladesh’s celebrated mountaineer Wasfia Nazreen has been diagnosed with COVID-19. She is currently in quarantine in Los Angeles.
“Yes, I’ve been fighting Covid-19 but everything will be okay,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I’m now in quarantine (which I was already practicing after I flew into LA) with strict measures and watch over my breathing. I’ll just have to fight it out. Every day is a struggle,” she wrote.
Large numbers in home quarantine
In Sylhet 1,444 overseas-returnees are currently in home quarantine. The number is 917 in Cumilla, 473 in Laxmipur, 406 in Bogura, 399 in Satkhira, 55 in Khagrachhari, 157 in Narsingdi, 146 in Barguna, 115 in Meherpur, 121 in Jhalakathi, 101 in Kushtia, 80 in Rangamati, 101 in Kushtia, 143 in Narail, 26 in Panchagarh, 18 in Natore.
Natore Civil Surgeon Kazi Mizanur Rahman said they will send a patient with coronavirus symptoms to Dhaka.
In Cumilla, the Rapid Action Battalion arrested a youth from Batpara of Sadar upazila for spreading rumours about coronavirus on social media.
Meanwhile, Faridpur district administration has shut down two brothels for an indefinite period.
In Khagrachhari, a popular tourist destination in the Chattogram Hill Tracts, the district administration has shut down all tourist places.
Mobile courts fined 32 traders in Sherpur, 13 in Kurigram, 10 in Jhalakathi, five in Panchagarh, nine each in Kushtia and Satkhira, seven each in Sunamganj and Netrakona, and four in Munshiganj for selling daily commodities at higher prices.
These traders hiked prices of commodities taking advantage of the panic buying spree sparked by coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh.
Fined for breaching quarantine rules
Mobile courts fined an Italy returnee in Sirajganj, four returnees from Italy, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Nabinagar, one from Saudi Arabia in Rangamati, and another from Singapore in Netrakona for not following home quarantine rules.
Meanwhile, in Panchagarh, the district administration foiled a marriage ceremony programme at Tironoihat union of Tetulia upazila to prevent the spread of the virus.
Bangladesh reported its first death from coronavirus on March 18, ten days after the IEDCR confirmed the detection of first Covid-19 patients in the country.
The first three Bangladeshis infected with coronavirus have recovered.
Coronavirus, which was first reported in China, has claimed the lives of 11,398 people until Saturday and infected 275,871 people, according to worldometer.
Of them, 172,561 are currently being treated with 7,765 being in serious or critical condition. Until now So far, 103,310 cases had outcomes and of them, 91,912 (89 percent) recovered and 11 percent died.