Rajshahi city is entering a total lockdown beginning on Friday afternoon with shops and transports closed for seven days as the authorities grapple with an outbreak of the coronavirus in the border areas.
Divisional Commissioner Humayun Kabir announced the lockdown on Thursday, 10 days after a committee of experts at the Directorate General of Health Services recommended locking down seven districts, including Rajshahi, reports UNB.
A day later, Health Minister Zahid Maleque warned that delaying total lockdowns in these districts will deepen the crisis.
Now, Rajshahi Medical College Hospital is so overwhelmed by the deadly surge of infection, it has to keep patients on the floor for treatment.
Kabir said they took the decision after analysing data of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Rajshahi district.
He said no vehicle will be allowed into Rajshahi from Chanpainawabganj, Natore and Naogaon districts and transports cannot leave the districts. But emergency vehicles are exempt from the lockdown.
The lockdown measures include:
>> All businesses, shops, malls, markets, and restaurants will be closed.
>> No vehicle can enter or leave the city.
>> No gathering on any occasion, such as wedding or birthday, and political and religious programmes will be allowed.
>> All tourist spots, resorts, amusement centres, and community centres will be closed.
Pharmacies, kitchen markets, medical services and people engaged in performing the last rites of the dead, ambulances and other emergency vehicles and those transporting mangoes will be allowed.
As Rajshahi is the producer of the finest qualities of mango and the season is going on, the authorities will allow trading at mango markets during the lockdown on the condition that the traders and customers will wear masks and keep physical distancing, said Commissioner Kabir.
The railway ministry also suspended train services from Rajshahi to the rest of the country after Kabir’s announcement.
The government enforced a nationwide lockdown on Apr 5 to deal with the second wave of infection.
Some restrictions have been gradually lifted as the situation slightly improved.
The outbreaks in the rural border districts, however, have worsened after the detection of the highly infectious Delta variant, which has caused widespread loss of life in India.
As many as 12 patients died at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital’s COVID-19 unit in the 24 hours to 6:00 pm on Thursday, taking the death toll there to 92 in 10 days.
The positivity rate of coronavirus tests has continued to rise at the new disease hotspot in Rajshahi. Of the 404 tests conducted at two labs in Rajshahi, 169, or 41.85 percent, came back positive on Wednesday.
In the daily count on Thursday, Rajshahi recorded 353 cases, the highest among the 64 districts.