DHAKA: Bangladesh on Monday (Jul 5) extended its strictest lockdown to Jul 14 to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases led by the highly contagious Delta variant, with areas bordering India reporting the most infections. 

Bangladesh reported 153 deaths due to COVID-19 on Sunday, its biggest daily rise since the pandemic began. Its total death toll stands at 15,065 with 944,917 infections.

Hospitals are overwhelmed, particularly in districts bordering India, where the Delta variant was first identified. Bangladesh sealed its border with India in April, but trade continues.

A surge in cases had prompted the government to order a week of tight controls on Thursday, with army troops patrolling streets.

READ: Bangladesh’s COVID-19 hotspot gasps for air as tough lockdown bites

All measures have been extended, the government said in a statement. The shutdown has sparked an exodus of migrant workers from the capital Dhaka to home villages.

Factories are allowed to operate while observing health protocols, and all offices and transportation remain shut except essential goods carriers and ambulances.

Some workers are finding it difficult to survive without any income coming in.

“During the lockdown, there is no work. If this continues, I don’t know how I feed my family,” said Mohammad Manik, father of two, who works as a day labourer at a kitchen market in Dhaka.

“It is not the coronavirus but hunger that will kill us.”

READ: Thousands stranded in Bangladesh ahead of sweeping COVID-19 lockdown

Bangladesh received 2.5 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine from the US under the COVAX global-sharing scheme over the weekend. It also received 2 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China.

Bangladesh’s vaccination drive suffered a blow after India stopped exports of the AstraZeneca shot in response to a record surge in domestic infections. Only 3 per cent of Bangladesh’s population of 170 million have been vaccinated. 

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