Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged people to follow health protocols and avoid big crowds, warning that omicron, the new variant of COVID-19, increased the risk of contracting the disease.
As the new omicron variant has spread across the globe, we must follow health protocols. Around this time people usually get colds and coughs. Therefore, everyone should wear a mask,” the prime minister said as she attended the foundation laying ceremony of cancer treatments centres at medical colleges in eight divisional cities via video conference on Sunday.
She urged everyone to avoid hosting or attending large gatherings.
The omicron variant has swiftly crossed borders and alarmed people around the globe. At least 21 cases have been detected in Bangladesh as well.
The daily COVID tests across the country yielded a positivity rate of nearly 6 percent on Saturday. After four months, the daily rise in cases has crossed 1,100 again.
The National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19 has recommended a halt to all kinds of social, political, and religious gatherings in a bid to prevent the spread of omicron.
It suggested the operation of mobile courts, if needed, to enforce the initiatives taken by the government to prevent the spread of the disease.
Experts believe that two doses of the coronavirus vaccine do not provide enough protection from the omicron variant, but can lower the need for hospitalisation. The booster dose, however, provides a certain amount of protection against the variant.
In addition to adults, Bangladesh has started to inoculate students between 12-18 years of age. It will also inoculate younger children once the World Health Organization approves it, the prime minister said.
She highlighted her government’s efforts to keep the economy running with different policy support and financial incentive packages amid the pandemic.
“We have a special allocation of around Tk 100 billion in the national budget to ensure health service for the people. We can spend more if necessary and have also prepared a separate fund.”
Bangladesh is working to obtain some 310 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, Hasina shared, adding that the government is working to ensure that no one is left unvaccinated.
“Many of you are scared of getting the shot. I urged the people not to be afraid and not pay heed to the false propaganda.”
She also mentioned that more children are being infected by omicron.
People should not be afraid to get the vaccine and should make sure they are safe, she said.
Bangladesh is providing the vaccine to its people for free, as the government’s main purpose is to work for the people, she said.
The government has decided to continue the inoculation programme even if its budget needs to be expanded.