Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for the members of the public to stand beside the poor and vulnerable groups as Bangladesh prepares to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr amid an escalating coronavirus crisis
Dhaka: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for the members of the public to stand beside the poor and vulnerable groups as Bangladesh prepares to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr amid an escalating coronavirus crisis.
Addressing the nation on the eve of its biggest religious festival, Hasina urged citizens to celebrate the occasion at home with their loved ones as the country remains under lockdown.
"I urge those who have the means not to forget about your poor neighbours in your villages and neighbourhoods. Do whatever you can for them to have a fulfilling Eid," the prime minister said as she extended her greetings to the public.
The prime minister’s televised speech came on Sunday after Bangladesh reported 28 new deaths from COVID-19, the highest in a daily count, as the caseload spiralled past 33,000.
In addition to the rampant coronavirus outbreak, the country is also reeling from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Amphan which claimed over 20 lives and caused an estimated Tk 11 billion worth of damage to infrastructure and crops in the coastal districts.
Citing the proverb that 'misfortune does not come alone', Hasina said the government's preparedness for the cyclone helped prevent even greater damage to life and property in the coastal districts.
Over 2.4 million residents in vulnerable areas along with 600,000 livestock were evacuated to cyclone shelters ahead of the storm, Hasina said.
Despite the government's efforts, many deaths were caused by uprooted trees and collapsing buildings while numerous others had their homes destroyed by the cyclone.
"We have started distributing relief among those affected by the cyclone while work to repair damaged houses is also underway."
The government will continue to fully support the public until the coronavirus pandemic is contained, Hasina said.
She urged the citizens to work together with the government to ride out the ongoing crisis.
"There will be more storms and epidemics but no matter how deep a crisis is, it can easily be overcome when the people stand united," the prime minister said.
"With your assistance and support, we have been able to successfully deal with the coronavirus outbreak for two and a half months. The government and I will continue to stand beside the people for as long as this pandemic lasts."
In her speech, the premier also thanked the health professionals and law-enforcement personnel who are fighting the pandemic on the front line as the country enters its second month under lockdown.
But the government has recently rolled back some of the lockdown restrictions as part of efforts to kickstart a floundering economy.
While the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic may linger well into the foreseeable future, Hasina reiterated the need to restore some aspects of public life in order to avoid further turmoil.
"Life cannot remain at a standstill. We may have to live with the coronavirus at least until a vaccine is developed. But economic activities must be restarted for the sake of our livelihoods."