Bangladesh will return to national isolation by the end of the week, responding to the wave of infections that brought the largest single-day death toll from the pandemic on Monday.
Looming restrictions, introduced in stages, have forced tens of thousands of migrant workers in Dhaka, the capital and largest city, to struggle to reach their villages in scenes reminiscent of neighboring Exodus of migrants from India last year.
The garment industry, which employs 4.5 million people and accounts for 80 percent of the country’s exports, will remain open. But other businesses have been ordered to limit their operations to the minimum level of personnel required, and nearly all public transport systems are either shutting down or already shut down.
Dhaka residents expect to be largely homebound after Thursday, the first day of what the government has called “hard isolation,” although it remains to be seen how strict the measures will be. The government said the army, police and border guards would be deployed to ensure strict compliance.
Bangladesh has slowed the spread of the virus with sporadic restrictions and reduced travel in an attempt to keep much of the economy open. But now a rapidly spreading wave with hardly 3 percent of the population vaccinated, forced officials to take more drastic measures.
The country recorded 119 deaths on Monday, the highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic, while the positive test rate was over 20 percent. Bangladesh has officially reported a total of nearly 900,000 infections and 14,172 deaths from the virus, although experts believe the true numbers are much higher.
The current isolation has been gradual. The government stopped long-distance trains and buses last week. He also imposed isolation in seven areas surrounding Dhaka to prevent a spate of attacks there. Shopping malls are closed and restaurants only accept take-out orders.
Full isolation, originally calculated for one week, starts on Thursday. All transport systems, except for auto-rickshaws, will be closed.
The government has instructed garment factory owners to organize the transportation of their workers during previous rounds of restrictions. When public transport was stopped in April to slow the spread of the virus, factory owners who failed to organize transportation were accused of disorderly conduct and workers had to travel miles twice a day to get to work.
As the last quarantine approached, ferry stations in Dhaka were flooded with people trying to cross the river to the southern regions.