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Asia Minute: Locking Down in Bangladesh

Virus Outbreak Bangladesh coronavirus
Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP
A Bangladeshi man receives a vaccine for COVID-19 at a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

The World Bank says Bangladesh has made dramatic progress in recent years when it comes to cutting poverty, but the bank also reports COVID-19 has eroded some of that work.

Bangladesh is going on lockdown this week.

A little more than a month ago, daily new cases of COVID-19 in the country were fewer than 300. Today, the average daily case count tops 5,200.

The death rate is climbing too. The Dhaka Tribune reports the national positivity rate for the virus is now 22%.

Starting Thursday, no one will be able to leave their homes except in case of an emergency—even public transport is shutting down.

Those week-long restrictions will also shut down the country’s vast clothing business, the core of its economy.

The factories draw migrant workers from around the country. In recent days many of those workers have been scrambling to get out of town—to their homes in the countryside.

Health officials fear crowds at ferry terminals and elsewhere may spread the virus even further.

The pace of vaccinations remains slow. Early supplies were dependent on the AstraZeneca shot that was produced in neighboring India, but India stopped exporting the vaccines.

Right now, government figures show only about 3% of the population of Bangladesh is fully immunized—while supplies are coming from China, Russia and the World Health Organization’s Covax program.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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