Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the general holidays might be extended till April 9 as part of the government move to stop spreading the deadly coronavirus.“We have earlier announced 10 days general holidays from March 26 (to April 4) and it might be extended till April 9,” she said.
She was exchanging views over the coronavirus situation across the country with the public representatives and field level government officials through video conference from her official Ganabhaban residence here.
The premier said the holidays might be extended to end spreading the COVID-19 at the villages as many people have already gone to their village homes soon after the announcement of 10 days public holiday.
In this context, she said, “We will have to take quarantine period into consideration so that this lethal virus can’t spread.”
The prime minister said the government has to give relaxation on some sectors in the limited basis.
The government earlier on March 23 declared a nationwide 10-day holidays from March 26 to April 4 shutting down the government and private offices excepting essential and healthcare facilities over the COVID-19 situation.
All have been requested to stay-at-home during the holidays unless they have a good reason to leave their homes to buy essentials such as food and for medical and health care purposes as the kitchen markets, food shops, pharmacies, hospitals and all emergency services remained out of the purview of the general holidays.
The premier, however, sounded a note of warning against any sort of corruption and irregularities in distributing foods among the destitute people particularly the day-laborers’.
“No corruption and irregularity in this regard will be tolerated anymore. We will not spare anyone, whoever he or she might be, involved in doing so to be rich or wealthy capitalizing the bad times of the people,” she added.
She has asked all to be alert to this end.
The prime minister also asked preparing a separate list of the people who are out of the social safety network programme such day labourers, rickshaw pullers, transport workers, tea-stall vendors to reach essentials to them as none remains hungry due to the shutdown.
“I am asking all including the deputy commissioners to work accordingly regarding the social safety net programme. Beside the programme (social safety net), we will have to reach the foods to the people such as daily wage earners, rickshaw pullers, transport workers who became jobless due to coronavirus situation. It must be ensured that no one remains hungry with the family,” she continued.
The premier asked the authorities concerned to ensure that none is left out of the list, adding food distribution will have to be made in a coordinated way and it must be ensured that none can get food time and again.
She also asked the authorities concerned to ensure additional allocation of foods to meet the growing demand.
Sheikh Hasina urged all particularly the affluent people to join hands with the government to this end.
The prime minister has asked all to celebrate the Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bengali New Year, digitally without creating any mass gatherings in response to the government “stay-at-home” guideline.
“You can celebrate the Pahela Baishakh digitally as much as you want. But, the celebration by creating mass gatherings must be stopped (as mass gatherings have been banned considering the coronavirus situation),” she added.
She, however, said that they have started celebrating the Pahela Baishakh by ignoring many hurdles, adding, “But it is a matter of sorrow that we have to end the celebration this time due to coronavirus situation. We have banned it considering the welfare of the people.”
In this context, the premier said that the government has suspended all the programmes of the “Mujib Year” marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the programmes of the Independence Day and the historic March 7 over the COVID-19 situation and observed the programmes in different way.
She said there is no need to use the personnel protection equipment (PPE) by all except by the health activists, nurses and physicians who are entrusted with giving treatment to the people infected with the coronavirus.
She asked the authorities concerned to create awareness about the use of PPE.
Officials of local administrations, however, informed the prime minister that there was no crisis of PPEs at this moment.
Information Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud, Agriculture Minister Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Local Government and Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Md Tazul Islam and State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr. Md Enamur Rahman were connected to the video conference from Bangladesh Secretariat.
PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the function while Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam along with senior secretaries, and secretaries was also added to the video conference from the Secretariat here as newly elected Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam was connected from the office of divisional commissioner of Dhaka.
Among others, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, PM’s personal physician Professor Dr ABM Abdullah and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah were present at the Ganabhaban.
Holidays may increase till April 9 over coronavirus situation: PM