Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a clarion call asking all to strictly follow health guideline to face the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing second wave, simultaneously reassuring the nation that her government remained beside the people.
“You (people) have no reason to be panicked. The government always remains beside you,” she said in a televised address to the nation on the eve of the Bengali New Year 1428.
But the premier simultaneously added that every individual has the responsibility to ensure his or her own protection alongside their family members and the neighbours, urging all to maintain strictly the protocols developed to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
She said the reappearance of the pandemic with intensified wraths forced her government to impose some stricter restrictions in line with expert opinions as previous measures proved inadequate in preventing the COVID-19 spread.
The Premier acknowledged that the restrictions could affect livelihoods of many people but said “we all have to keep in mind — human life is above everything”.
“Avoid crowd, use masks whenever you go outdoors and get cleaned on your return home and inhale hot water vapour,” she said.
She said the government took steps in terms of financial allocations and infrastructural mechanisms in preventing the pandemic’s spread, treating COVID-19 patients and bringing poor people under the social safety net.
The Premier said medical facilities were expanded in Dhaka and every other district to treat coronavirus patients and steps were taken to ensure undisrupted oxygen supply to COVID-1- designated government hospitals while works were underway to increase ICU facilities there.
Sheikh Hasina said her government allocated Taka 807.65 crore to generate employment in rural areas and Taka 672 crore for the holy Ramadan and upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr to help 1,24,42,000 lower-income families.
She said the allocations would widen social safety net coverage that included VGF and test relief which were introduced since the onset of Covid-19 last year.
The Prime Minister simultaneously assured the countrymen that all the target people would be brought under the vaccination programme as the scientists by now developed several vaccine types including that of Oxford-AstraZeneca to fight the Covid-19.
“In phases we will vaccinate all the people as we have the preparation,” she said adding that by now the government procured a significant number of inoculate doses since its invention.
Sheikh Hasina said as many as 56 lakh people have received the first dose of the vaccine while the target people started receiving the second doses as well.
The Premier, however, reminded all to follow the health guidelines strictly as experts could not ensure effectiveness of inoculates in every single case and therefore “we have to follow the health protocols even after taking the vaccine for Covid-19”.
She said her government issued an 18-point directive to fight the Covid-19, adding, “InshaAllah, we will definitely be able to control the coronavirus if we maintain the health guidelines”.
The Premier greeted all at home and abroad on the occasion of Pohela Boishakh, the first Day of Bangla calendar, saying — “Shuvo Noboborsho” and also greeted all Muslims at the advent of the holy Ramadan.
But she urged all to celebrate the Pohela Boishakh festival at their own houses with their families unlike the usual manner to evade crowding in view of the deadly pandemic.
“So, we will enjoy the Pahela Baishakh staying at home as we did in the last year. We can enjoy the programmes at the television channels and digital media and we can also enjoy the moment with our family members at home,” she added.
Mentioning that the government has enforced a nonstop 62-day-long general holiday last year, the prime minister said reopening of educational institutions is yet to be possible alongside reestablishment of normal movement with foreign countries.
“Not only Bangladesh is facing this unwanted situation, all the countries of the world are also witnessing the surge of coronavirus infection and are being forced to take such measures,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is maintaining strong vigilance to protect human lives alongside keeping the country’s economy and people’s livelihood rolling.
“We’ve been able to tackle the impacts of the pandemic successfully last year because of taking some timely measures with the cooperation of all,” she noted.
The prime minister also highlighted four main principles adopted by her government to combat the possible adverse impacts of coronavirus on the economy.
These are: increase of government’s expenditure; prioritizing ’employment generation’ for this expenditure; formulation of financial assistance packages; revitalizing economic activities, keeping the labourers and workers engage in works and upholding the competition efficiency of entrepreneurs; expansion of social safety net programmes to meet the basic necessity of the people living under poverty line, day labourers and the people involved with non-institutional activities; and raise the money supply keeping inflation under control, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is implementing its programmes in line with the four principles and has already announced a total of 23 stimulus packages of Taka 124,053 crore alongside taking initiative of maintaining uninterrupted output in the factories and boosting agriculture production.
Besides, a total of nearly 2.5 crore people including day labourers, transport workers, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, school and madrasa teachers, students, Imams and Muazzin along with people of other religious organizations, journalists and other low income people has been brought under the government’s assistance, she said.
The premier said pandemic, storms, disasters are used to come over the years, but human beings have to survive combating these difficulties as the road of life is not smooth. “Overcoming all the hurdles, we’ll have to march forward,” she added.
Pointing out that Bangalee is a nation of heroes, she said, “We’re surviving defeating all difficulties and Insha Allah will be able to tackle this coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
Expressing her heartfelt Bangla Nabo Borsho greetings to all again, the prime minister reiterated her call to all to follow the health protection guidelines properly to stay safe.