Despite surge in COVID-19 deaths, Bangladesh reopens offices, transport

Public and private offices reopened in Bangladesh after the authorities relaxed some of the measures imposed, more than nine weeks ago, to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We are gradually returning to normalcy as the lockdown is lifted,’’ Health Ministry official, Nasima Sultana, told a news conference in Dhaka on Sunday.

She called upon everyone to follow the “post-lockdown” guidelines to stay safe.

Wearing a face mask and ensuring physical distancing are essential to prevent the spread of the virus, Sultana added.

The return to offices and relaunch of public transport services coincided with Bangladesh reporting a record 40 COVID-19 fatalities on Sunday, raising the cumulative death toll to 650.

More than 47,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus so far in the South Asian country, with 2,545 new cases reported on Sunday.

Bangladesh went into lockdown on March 26, eight days after the first death due to the COVID-19 respiratory disease was reported.

The restrictions were then extended until May 30.

Television footage showed masked officials entering their offices via makeshift disinfectant tunnels at the Bangladesh Secretariat, the major administrative hub in central Dhaka.

They also had their temperatures taken.

Some passenger ferries were crowded, while trains carried half their capacity to ensure physical distancing.

Long-distance buses will start up again from Monday, Road Transport Minister, Obaidul Quader, said.

Schools are to remain shut until further notice.