Bangladesh not to extend COVID-19 restrictions

DHAKA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Bangladeshi government will not extend its COVID-19 restrictions once they expire on Feb. 22 but mask mandates remain as usual.

A commuter writes a statement in front of a magistrate promising to use a facemasks after being stopped and fined by policemen while outdoors without a mask, along a street in a mobile court in Dhaka on January 13, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam made the announcement Sunday, saying the existing restrictions related to COVID-19 will end Tuesday.

"There will be no further restrictions in effect beyond Feb. 22," he told journalists in Dhaka.

According to him, masks will remain mandatory for attending any indoor or outdoor events.

Amid surging cases with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the Asian country, the Bangladeshi government on Jan. 13 imposed 11-point restrictions till Feb. 7, then extended them up to Feb. 21.

According to the official, the secondary and higher educational institutes will reopen on Feb. 22 after a closure of one month.

Education Minister Dipu Moni earlier said fully vaccinated students who have received two vaccine shots will be allowed to attend in-person classes from Feb. 22, while the others will have to continue to take classes online.

Educational institutions for students aged under 12 will reopen about two weeks later, she added.

The latest moves came as the COVID-19 situation continued to improve in the country in recent weeks. On Sunday, Bangladesh reported 1,987 fresh cases, taking the infection tally to 19,33,291. The country also reported 21 new deaths from the pandemic, taking the death toll to 28,965.