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    Bangladesh makes masks mandatory again as COVID cases rise

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    The government has made it mandatory for citizens to wear masks again amid a rise in the number of coronavirus infections.
    In a set of instructions on Tuesday, the Cabinet Division ordered people to maintain physical distancing and follow the other health rules properly following recommendations by a national committee of experts.

    Government high-ups noticed that the number of COVID-19 cases is rising of late with considerable negligence among people to follow the preventive health protocols, the Cabinet Division said.

    It urged the media to publish content to inspire people to follow the health protocols.

    Offices will need to reinstate the “No Mask, No Services” rule in line with the instructions.

    Besides wearing a mask, people should also avoid social gatherings as much as possible.

    Physical distancing must be maintained at places of worship. In mosques, imams will raise awareness about the rules in their sermons.

    The government urged people with COVID-19 symptoms to get the tests.

    At stores, shopping malls, markets, hotels and restaurants, people will face legal action for violating the mask rule.

    Bangladesh registered 2,087 cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8am on Tuesday, taking the overall tally of infections to 1,969,361. Another three fatalities were registered in the daily count, taking the death toll from the disease to 29,145.
    As many as 13,489 samples were tested across the country, for a positivity rate of 15.47 percent.

    The case positivity rate dropped below 1 percent following a wave of cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant of the coronavirus. The daily count of cases fell below 10 while no deaths were reported for 20 days in a row.

    Infections, however, began to rise in early June. The government started reporting deaths again some days ago.

    It ordered educational institutions to strictly enforce mask rules after the national expert panel recommended restoring preventive measures to counter the new rise in COVID-19 cases.

    The National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19 on Jun 16 suggested that COVID-negative certificates and vaccination certificates be made mandatory for travellers coming to Bangladesh.

    It also pressed for restrictions on public gatherings, compulsory mask-wearing and reintroduction of the ‘no mask, no service’ policy.

    Speaking at a seminar on Monday, ABM Abdullah, professor emeritus at Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, urged all to wear masks and follow other rules amid what he calls is the “fourth wave” of COVID-19 in Bangladesh.

    He, however, does not think harsh measures like a lockdown will be required to tackle the rise in cases, noting that the vaccination rate is high.

    RULES TO BE FOLLOWED AT MOSQUES, TEMPLES

    The religious affairs ministry later announced another set of rules for mosques, temples and other places of worship.
    >> Worshippers must wear masks and the mosques and temples must keep hand sanitiser or water and soap at the entrances.

    >> Muslims must perform ablution and Sunnat prayers at home. They must also wash hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds before leaving for mosques.

    >> Mosques cannot use carpets. The authorities must disinfect the mosques before prayers five times a day.

    >> Muslims must bring their prayer rugs.

    >> They must keep physical distancing.

    >> Children, the elderly, sick people and the caregivers of the sick are not allowed at mosques.

    >> Mosques must keep soap and hand sanitiser at places of ablution.

    >> Common rugs and topis cannot be used.

    >> The authorities and the worshippers must follow the guidelines issued by other ministries and law-enforcing agencies.

    Law enforcers may take action if the rules are violated.

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