Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged the people of the country to remain careful so that the celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr do not invite Coronavirus cases to spike.
"My request to people, please don't go to your kith and kin out of emotion (to celebrate Eid), as many don't even have any symptoms (of infections). You never know one beside you is carrying coronavirus. By this (getting close), you're also falling at the risk of getting infected in addition to putting your close relatives and neighbours at risk," she said.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the nation on the eve of Holy Eid-ul-Fitr.
State-run Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television simultaneously broadcast the Prime Minister's address. Private television channels and radio stations also aired the 16-minute speech.
Sheikh Hasina urged all to keep in mind that the lives of people come first. "If [we] survive all will celebrate Eid next year in a befitting manner."
Like the previous year, she said, the government has imposed a ban on holding Eid Jamaats at Eidgahs and requested all to perform Eid Jamaat at mosques, maintaining social distancing and health guidelines.
She asked all to enjoy the holy Eid-ul-Fitr staying at the places where they are and requested the affluent section of society to stand beside their poor neighbours and villagers.
"Extend your supporting hands to them. Your assistance might help bring a smile to the face of a family… it's the biggest responsibility to stand beside people as human beings. We must not forget that responsibility," she said.
Talking about the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the Prime Minister said the government has started the inoculation drive with the most effective and scrutinised AstraZeneca.
"You know that Indian authorities have imposed a temporary ban on vaccine export. As a result, there have been some problems in the supply system," she said.
The Prime Minister said the government has taken a move to collect vaccines from alternative sources and talks underway with the vaccine producers of Russian and China, while vaccine doses from China arrived as a gift.
She said the government has requested the USA for providing vaccine shots, and Bangladesh will get an adequate amount of vaccine doses from Covax.
"We've taken steps to procure one crore vaccine doses from different sources and those will start reaching the country very soon," she said.
Besides, Hasina mentioned, the government has taken initiatives to produce more vaccines and it will take a few months. "We'll bring all the citizens of the country under the vaccination drive, Inshallah."
The Prime Minister said Covid-19 has badly affected the country's health system and economy.
When the virus infection rate started showing a downtrend at the end of the last year, the people of the country along with others elsewhere across the globe had bene hopeful that the world would get rid of this deadly virus, she said, adding: "But the second wave has destroyed all our planning and aspirations from mid-March."
As this virus spreads through human beings, it will not be possible to control it without avoiding crowds, the Prime Minister said.
That is why, she said, the government was forced to impose a ban on people's normal movement despite knowing it will cause suffering to them.
"Shops, shopping malls and business houses are open, maintaining health guidelines. For the same reason, restrictions have been imposed on the operation of public transport services," she said.
Hasina said the Eid-ul-Fitr has to be observed this time under an uncomfortable situation again. "We'll celebrate Eid, but will also maintain the health guidelines."
The Prime Minister highly appreciated doctors, nurses and health workers for their services to Covid-19 patients knowing their personal risks.
She also lauded the members of the law-enforcement agencies, armed forces and administration for playing important active roles in enforcing the lockdown and distributing relief materials.
The Prime Minister thanked and greeted journalists for presenting and publishing news defying the risk of infections.
The Prime Minister briefly described various initiatives of the government to provide treatment for the coronavirus-infected people apart from taking all-out measures to resist coronavirus infections.
She laid emphasis on using masks, washing hands regularly with soap or sanitising hands to keep one free from coronavirus infection.
Hasina said the deadly coronavirus is not only taking lives but it is also destroying the world economy.
To avoid infections, she said, the government has enforced a lockdown from April 5, causing a blow to the livelihoods of people. "But there was no option other than taking this tough measure," she said.
Hasina said that all must keep in mind that the health infrastructure of every country has its own limited capability.
If the number of patients increases suddenly, it becomes impossible to provide medical services, she said adding, "You saw even the developed countries are facing trouble to provide services to the patient, for that the number of patients must not be allowed to increase."
The Prime Minister said the government is trying to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods.
She mentioned various government stimulus packages and assistance programmes, including cash support of the government to various sections of people during the pandemic.
"When we were about to make a turnaround in our economic condition, the second wave struck us in March. As a result, there might be some sort of slowdown in our desired growth," she apprehended.
But, she mentioned, Bangladesh will be able to attain its desired growth as per projections by local and international organisations.
But, she said, Bangladesh's foreign currency reserve exceeded USD 45 billion in addition to a bumper Boro production in the country.