Bangladesh is enforcing a lockdown for a week, shutting shopping malls and transportation, to help curb the spread of coronavirus as the rate of infections and deaths have increased in recent weeks.
Domestic flights, river transport and railway operations were suspended on Monday, with only emergency services remaining operational. Travel from all European countries – except the United Kingdom – and 12 other countries has already been banned for three weeks.
Health authorities said they were facing overwhelming pressure on hospitals in recent weeks because of the spike, which saw a record 7,087 new cases reported on Sunday taking the infection toll to just under 640,000, including 9,266 deaths.
The government has asked people not to go out from 6pm to 6am.
Banks will operate for only two-and-a-half hours daily, while public and private sector businesses were told to have only a skeleton crew in their offices.
Industries are allowed to operate, but must help their workers commute.
The shop owners and workers of malls in the Elephant Road area of the capital, Dhaka, took to the streets, demanding that authorities allow them to work.
A few three-wheelers and cars were seen on the streets of Dhaka, which are usually clogged during the day. Traffic police intercepted bikers and checked their documents.
Local TV stations reported that enforcement of the lockdown in many towns was loose.
The nationwide lockdown is the second for the South Asian nation after it shut down for two months from late March last year.
On the eve of the lockdown, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged people to help curb the spread of the virus in a speech in Parliament.
“I know everyone will face difficulties. Despite this, I say lives should be given preference over everything,” Hasina said.