Amid a fresh surge in coronavirus cases, fuelled by highly contagious Omicron variant, the government has imposed fresh restrictions, including shutting educational institutions and limiting the number of people in social gatherings, to curb the spread of the virus.
The Cabinet Division issued a notification on Friday imposing a five-point restriction on the overall activities and movement of people.
The government has banned the gathering of over 100 people for any political, social, religious and state programmes. “Those who will attend such programmes will need to have Covid-19 vaccine certificates and certificates of RT-PCR test done within 24 hours,” the notification said.
It said all the government and non-government offices, industries and factories will have to collect corona vaccine certificates from their officials and employees. “The authorities concerned will bear the responsibility in this regard.”
Proper health guidelines, including wearing masks, will have to be ensured at public places like markets, shopping malls, mosques, bus stands, launch terminals and railway stations.
The local administration and law enforcement agencies will monitor the matter, the notification said.
Earlier, addressing a press conference at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) headquarters in the capital in the morning, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said all the educational institutions, including universities, will remain closed for two weeks.
Zahid Maleque also said not more than 100 people can attend any social event in the country and the attendees will have to carry vaccine certificates. “I urge the district administration and other authorities to enforce the health rules strictly. I also call upon the country’s people to maintain the safety protocols,” he added.
He said people must carry vaccine certificates and corona test certificates to enter any event venue, including stadiums, book fair, trade fair, tourism spots, hotels and restaurants.
As people are not following the health guidelines even after the issuance of an 11-point directive by the government, the infection rate is on the rise, the minister said, adding that if this situation continues, no bed will remain empty in any hospital.
He further said the number of corona patients has been increasing in such a rate that one-thirds of hospital beds in Dhaka are now occupied with such patients.
Managing enough beds in hospitals has been a growing concern as over 2,000 people are currently being hospitalised across the country every day with Covid-19 infections, including 1,000 in Dhaka city alone, Zahid Maleque said.
About coronavirus vaccination, he said 15.10 crore doses of vaccines have so far been administered in the country. “Of them, 9.24 crore was given as first doses and 5.80 crore as second doses. Still, we have a stock of 9 crore vaccines."
The minister said the government has targeted to inoculate 70 percent of the total population or 12.5 crore people of the country.
He said the DGHS in its study found that highly contagious Omicron variant accounts for 70 percent of cases.
Zahid Maleque said 337,350 doses of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine have recently been received from the US which will be administered soon.
After the government directives, National University suspended its all examinations until further notice. The new schedule of the tests will be informed later when the situation turns normal, said a press release on Friday.
The Dhaka University authorities have also suspended in-person classes and decided to go virtual.
However, residential halls of DU will remain open while administrative offices on a limited scale to resolve the session jam. DU Vice-Chancellor Dr Md Akhteruzzaman confirmed the matter on Friday.
The government earlier imposed 11 restrictions which came into effect on January 13 to prevent the fresh surge of the coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, sources at the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) said the ongoing Dhaka International Trade Fair will go on following the health rules.