Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday requested all to obey advises of health experts ‘word to word’ and particularly ‘avoid public gatherings as much as possible’ to prevent coronavirus spread.
The prime minister called upon those who returned home from the coronavirus-affected countries to properly follow the directives including quarantine and isolation at home.
‘I request the brothers and sisters who returned home from the coronavirus-hit countries…stay isolated only for 14 days for the sake of your family, neighbours and above all for saving lives of the countrymen,’ she said in her nationwide address on the eve of Independence and National Day 2020 Wednesday evening.
The prime minister added, ‘We triumphed in the 1971 liberation war in combating enemies shoulder to shoulder…facing this deadly disease is another war.’
Sheikh Hasina said that staying indoors at home was the main means to win the war against COVID-19 adding, ‘Your awareness will keep you, your family and the people of the country protected’.
‘This is a time for practicing austerity. Don’t buy anything beyond minimal necessity. Do not stockpile goods. Give scopes to people with limited income to purchase their essentials,’ Sheikh Hasina said.
The prime minister simultaneously asked businessmen not to take advantage of the crisis saying that arrangements were afoot for monitoring markets everywhere while currently there was no shortage of goods in the market.
Sheikh Hasina said that sale of rice at Tk 10 per kg and distribution of rice at free of cost under the VGD and VGF programmes will continue. ‘Medicines and healthcare services are being given at free of cost in the same way,’ she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that she had already announced an incentive package of Tk 5,000 crore for export-oriented industrial institutions.
‘The fund can only be used for paying salaries and allowances of the workers and staff members,’ she said.
Besides, she said, the Bangladesh Bank had already taken some business-friendly initiatives. ‘The central bank has announced not to declare any client loan defaulter by June this year,’ she said.
The prime minister said that the deadline of collecting income from export had been extended to six months from two months. Similarly, timeframe of meeting up import expenditure has also been extended to six months from four months, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that the limit of monetary transaction through mobile banking had been increased.
‘Time limit of paying electricity, water and gas bills has been extended till June without surcharges or fines and paying instalment of NGO loans has been suspended temporarily,’ she said.
The prime minister said that on March 15, she joined a videoconferencing with head of states and governments of SAARC nations with a view to fighting the spread of coronavirus on the basis of international and regional cooperation.
Sheikh Hasina said that the country was currently self-reliant in food as sufficient grains were now stored in government warehouses, private mills and in the farmers homes.
The prime minister said that from March 24, maintaining social distancing had been enforced in divisional cities and district towns.
She called upon the Muslims as well as the people of other faiths to offer prayers at home to keep social distance.
She said that Society of Doctors opened 500 helpline numbers as well and suggested people to call these numbers ‘if any COVID-19 symptom emerges’.
Sheikh Hasina said that six hospitals were prepared in Dhaka for coronavirus patients while arrangements were underway to treat coronavirus patients in five more hospitals in the capital and separate beds have been prepared for such patients in district and upazila-level hospitals.
The prime minister said that measures had been taken to keep all the passengers arriving from abroad from March 19 in compulsory quarantine under the army.
Sheikh Hasina said that the government had already stopped the on-arrival visa and Bangladesh missions abroad had been asked not to grant visas to any foreign national.
She said that there were eight testing machines in Dhaka, while the work was underway to set up coronavirus testing laboratories in seven other divisions.
The prime minister extended her sincere thanks to health workers, members of law enforcement agencies, armed forces and administration for making united efforts in containing the spread of the virus.
‘Members of the army will extend cooperation to district administrations to make it effective,’ she said.
The prime minister said that the lower income people would be given assistance at their respective villages under the ‘Ghore Fera’ programme.
The prime minister said that homeless and landless people would be provided homes, and food for six months at free of cost and cash incentive. ‘The deputy commissioners have already been instructed in this regard,’ she said.
The prime minister said that accommodation for 100,000 people having employment facilities had been created at Bhashan Char. ‘If anyone wants to go there, the government will take measures to this end,’ she said.
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