By SM Najmus Sakib
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Bangladesh has announced a raft of measures to curb an ongoing spike in coronavirus infections, including mandatory COVID-19 passes and restrictions on events and transport facilities.
Cases have risen by the day since the start of the year, surging from just 370 on Jan. 1 to 3,359 new infections on Thursday.
The positivity rate in Bangladesh has climbed to 12.03%, according to official figures.
The capital Dhaka, which has been declared a red zone, accounted for 2,752 of the cases recorded over the past day.
The omicron variant is believed to be driving the new wave of infections, but official data puts the number of confirmed cases of the highly transmissible strain at just 30.
The government has tightened restrictions after about five months, making face masks mandatory and banning all social, political and religious events until further notice.
Public transport will operate at 50% capacity starting Thursday, according to a new government order.
People will also have to show COVID-19 vaccination certificates to enter places including restaurants and hotels.
Vaccine passes are now also mandatory for anyone coming into the country.
Bangladesh launched a vaccine booster drive in late December and has made vaccination mandatory for all students above the age of 12.
The measures come into force as Health Minister Zahid Maleque cautioned that hospitalizations and deaths could further spike in the coming days.
“There were, on average, 250 COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospitals a week ago, but the figure has shot up to around 1,000,” he said on Wednesday, warning that a crisis was in the offing if people do not start complying with health guidelines.