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‘Lockdown’ extended again
Bangladesh reports 15 Covid-19 deaths, 4,78,546 total recoveries
Bangladesh recorded 15 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths and 509 fresh cases overnight. The recovery count rose to 4,78,546 after another 611 patients were discharged from the hospitals during the period, a press release of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said today (Thursday). “Fifteen more COVID-19 patients died in the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll from the pandemic to 8,087,” the release said. It said the tally of infections has surged to 5,33,953 as 509 new cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours. A total of 14,830 samples were tested at 204 authorized laboratories across the country during the time. Of the total sample tests in the past 24 hours, 3.43 percent tested positive, while 14.77 percent cases were detected from the total tests conducted so far, the release added. Among the total infections, 89.62 percent patients have recovered, while 1.51 percent died so far since the first COVID-19 positive cases were reported in the country on March 8. Among the 15 deaths, 12 are male and three female the press release said, adding one is in his 40s, one in his 50s while 13 are above 60 years. According to the division-wise data, 12 deaths took place in Dhaka division and rests are in other divisions. Among the total 8,087 fatalities, 4,504 deaths occurred in Dhaka division, 1,486 in Chattogram division, 460 in Rajshahi division, 548 in Khulna division, 243 in Barishal division, 301 in Sylhet division, 356 in Rangpur division and 189 in Mymensingh division, according to the press release. A total of 36,15,338 samples have so far been tested since the detection of the first COVID-19 cases in the country. The DGHS said in order to make treatment facilities easily available for the COVID-19 patients, the government has introduced telemedicine services comprising 100 physicians for round the clock in the country. A total of 7,09,717 people have so far received healthcare services from telemedicine. The DGHS said 2,34,74,384 people received healthcare services from hotline mobile numbers and health web portals as the government formed a group of medical professionals to provide emergency healthcare services. To receive information and treatment facilities on COVID-19, the contact hotline and mobile numbers are 16263; 333; 10655 and 01944333222. As of January 28, 2021, 10:45 GMT, 2,186,521 people have died so far from the COVID-19 outbreak and there are currently 101,523,178 confirmed cases in 212 countries and territories, according to Worldometer, a reference website that provides counters and real-time statistics for diverse topics. China was the world’s first country which on January 11 reported the first death from the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province. Source: BSS AH
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Bangabandhu T-20 Cup: Khulna, Chattogram eye championship
Gemcon Khulna and Gazi Group Chattogram are all set to lock horns in the final of the Bangabandhu T20 Cup which will take place on Friday at 4:30pm at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.  These two teams ended the league-phase of the event with the highest points and run-rate. While Chattogram achieved 14 points from seven wins in eight games, Khulna gained eight points from four wins.  Chattogram lost Qualifier 1 against Khulna, but they made it to the final beating Beximco Dhaka in Qualifier 2.  Before taking the field in the final, both teams have revealed their desire to lift the trophy. Chattogram coach Mohammad Salahuddin said Khulna have some experienced players which will be a big advantage for them but he said he believes youngsters in his team have the ability to turn the tables. “We’ve a talented bunch of young players with some experienced guys. I believed they have the ability to deliver something expected in the final. Most of the players in our team didn’t play many finals in their lives. And at the same time, there will be no spectators in the gallery which is a relief for them because they are not used to much pressure,” he told the media Thursday during a practice session at Mirpur.  “It’s not important to think about what you’ve done in the last 10 games. It’ll not help us in the final. It (success in the final) depends on the performance we would show in the final and decisions we would take,” he added.  Chattogram was heavily reliant on Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mustafizur Rahman and Shoriful Islam. Liton led them with the bat scoring 370 runs in nine games. He is also the highest runs getter in the event so far. Soumya also did well, scoring 280 runs in 10 games with an average of 31.11.  Left-arm pacer Mustafizur bagged 21 wickets in nine games for them while Shoriful scalped 14.  Khulna banks on new blood Khulna captain Mahmudullah Riyad also expressed his ambition to win the title with the squad that has a good mixture of young and experienced players. “We’ve a good tournament so far. We played a good brand of cricket, especially, I'm fascinated with the performance of players who were members of the World Cup-winning Bangladesh team,” Mahmudullah told the media on Thursday.  Mahmudullah said the inclusion of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has increased experience in their team.  “He played many finals and won four titles of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). So, it’s great to have him in the squad. I always talk to Mashrafe so that I can get ideas from him to do well in the field. We’re lucky that he’ll feature for us in the final,” he added.  Khulna, however, will miss the service of Shakib Al Hasan. The veteran allrounder left the team due to a family emergency.  “Shakib could play a vital role in the final. We all know what he can do in the field. Since he’s not available in the final, we should take the responsibilities to do well,” Khulna captain told the media.  Each member of the champion team will receive Tk 150,000 while each member of the runners-up team will get Tk 75,000. The best batsman and the best bowler of the event will receive Tk 200,000 each while the player of the tournament and man of the final will get Tk 300,000 and 100,000 respectively, and there will be special performance award for four players who each will receive Tk 100,000.  Source: UNB AH
‘Europe returnees have to stay in 7 days mandatory quarantine’
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said that if the passengers arriving from United Kingdom fail to show negative certificates for coronavirus sample tests then they will have to stay for seven days mandatory quarantine. He said this at the inaugural ceremony of ‘Gene expert machine and mobile laboratory’ at the Ashkona Hajj Camp in the capital on Wednesday morning. The Health Minister said, the precautionary measures have been taken so that the new strain of coronavirus traced in the United Kingdom cannot spread in Bangladesh. He said, we have the ability to face the coronavirus and it has been enhanced further through inaugurating new laboratories. Zahid Maleque said, earlier passengers back from Europe used to stay for three days quarantine and also corona tests were performed for them. As new strain of coronavirus has been traced in Europe so will keep those passengers in seven days quarantine instead of three days. He said, corona infections are rising in Europe, America and India but we have been able to keep it in control. As coronavisrus is under control, so peaceful situation is prevailing and we are passing our lives in discipline. Economy of the country is in good shape and major export sector- garments is in operation. The minister said, yet no situation has been created in the country for lockdown. We have adequate hospital beds and we will increase the number if needed. He said, we are not in deficit of oxygen supply, as one of our oxygen factories is shut at the moment, so we have continued oxygen import from India. It will continue until our oxygen factory goes in operation. AH        
PM orders preparing another stimulus plan to tackle 2nd wave of Corona
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today (Wednesday) asked the authorities concerned particularly the finance ministry to prepare another plan of a stimulus package to effectively fight the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The premier gave the directive from a meeting to finalise the eighth Five-Year plan (2021-2025) at her official Ganabhaban residence in the capital. PM’s Deputy Press Secretary Hasan Jahid Tusher briefed the media after the meeting. Member (Senior Secretary) of the Planning Commission (General Economics Division) Dr Shamaul Alam made the presentation of the final draft of the eighth five-year plan with a slogan ” Towards the prosperity with all” in the meeting. The eighth five-year plan is scheduled to get its final approval in the next ECNEC meeting. The Prime Minister has given necessary directions after witnessing the presentation on the plan. Sheikh Hasina informed the meeting of a roadmap prepared by herself regarding the country’s development while she was in jail during the 1/11 caretaker government. The premier asked all concerned to create a strong internal market alongside expanding the regional and international markets for the local products. Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Governor of Bangladesh Bank Fazle Kabir, Senior Secretary of Planning Commission Md Asadul Islam and Senior Secretary of Finance Ministry Abdur Rouf Talukder, among others, were present. Source: BSS AH
Nine crore corona vaccines to arrive by June: Cabinet Secretary
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said, corona vaccines for four and half crore people are going to arrive in the country by the months of May-June. Total nine crore vaccines are going to arrive as two doses will be given to each of four and half crore people. In this way 20 per cent of the total population will come under coverage of the vaccination. He said this while briefing the newsmen at the secretariat after holding cabinet meeting on Monday. Earlier the cabinet meeting was held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. The Cabinet Secretary said, more vaccines for three crore people will arrive in the country in the second phase. The Health Minister is expecting that Oxford vaccine will arrive at the end of January or at the beginning of February. In this connection trainings are being given to the workforce who will work in the field level. Training is being given on how they would dispose materials used in the vaccination process. It was also discussed whether private sector can be involved in the vaccination process. He said, Health Minister is interested to use the extensive EPI activities, he wants to use the hospitals even the private sector. As we are getting time, so he is thinking about Oxford vaccine. The government will not discourage anyone if others get WHO approval. Our committee will approve the process. Khandker Anwarul Islam said, so far we know that Moderna and Pfizer corona vaccines have to preserve minus 25 and minus 17 degree Celsius temperature respectively. But we have not that kind of structure at the grass root level. Those can be preserved in the cold storage. Technical committee will look into the matter. They will fix the matter whether vaccines can be given without bringing major changes to the available structure. It is a technical matter. AH
French President Macron tests positive for Covid-19
French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, the presidential Elysee Palace announced on Thursday. It said the president took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared.” The brief statement did not say what symptoms Macron experienced. It said he would isolate himself for seven days. “He will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance,” it added. It was not immediately clear what contact tracing efforts were in progress. Macron attended a European Union summit at the end of last week, where he notably had a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He met Wednesday with the prime minister of Portugal. There was no immediate comment from Portuguese officials. Macron on Wednesday also held the government’s weekly Cabinet meeting in the presence of Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers. Castex’s office said that the prime minister is also self-isolating for seven days. The French presidency confirmed that Macron’s trip to Lebanon scheduled for next week is being canceled. Macron and other government officials repeatedly say that they are sticking to strict sanitary protocols during the pandemic, including not shaking hands, wearing a mask and keeping distance from other people. Macron is following French health authorities’ recommendations that since September have reduced the self-isolation time from 14 days to seven. Authorities said at the time that this is the period when there is the greatest risk of contagion and that reducing it allows better enforcement of the measure. French health authorities argued this week that the 14-day quarantine was not well-respected by many in the country who considered it too long. Source: UNB AH
Carryout court proceedings digitally: President
President M Abdul Hamid today called upon all concerned to carry out all types of court proceedings as well as preserve all its documents digitally. “Carry out court proceedings digitally . . . As the Supreme Court (SC) is the ‘Court of Record’, I think it is very important to digitally preserve all its documents and all its activities from the filing of the case to the announcement of the verdict,” he said. The head of the state was delivering his virtual speech from Bangabhaban on the ‘Supreme Court Day -2020’. Terming the information technology (IT) as an integral part of the daily life, President Hamid said even during the global pandemic Coronavirus, it has been possible for the courts to use IT to ensure justice for the people in a virtual way. “For this I thank all those involved in this (digital) activity,” the head of the state added. The President urged judges, lawyers and all concerned to ensure the rule of law and justice by utilizing their respective talents and thinking, being liable to country, people and Constitution. He said Bangladesh constitution stated that all citizens are equal to the eyes of law and are entitled to equal protection of the law. “Therefore, it should be remembered that a litigant has the right to get justice. And it is our responsibility and duty to ensure the right of the citizen. There is no question of kindness or favour here,” President Hamid added. Noting that country’s apex court Supreme Court is the guardian of the sacred Constitution, the President said since its (SC) inception, the Bangladesh Supreme Court has been playing a commendable role in protecting the fundamental rights of the people, establishing the rule of law and ensuring justice for the litigants. The Supreme Court declared the Fifth and Seventh Amendments to the Constitution null and void, and restored the democratic rights of the people, he said. Despite various hurdles, Abdul Hamid said the Supreme Court has played a commendable role in consolidating the rule of law in the country through the trial of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman murder case and the trial of war criminals. Reviewing the previous history, he said it is seen that the Supreme Court protected the basic human rights as well as the Constitution of the people whenever it is needed in the crisis of the nation. About the role of the lawyers, President Hamid, also a former practicing lawyer, said, “Lawyers are an essential part of the trial process through which judicial work cannot proceed without their help.” The President hoped that lawyers would go further than before in the practice of knowledge and would help the litigants to get justice quickly with their respective talent, wisdom, honesty and sincerity. “I myself as a lawyer know how difficult and complicated the judicial work is”, Hamid said. “How much work a judge has to do in conducting judicial proceedings. The government strongly believes in the independence of the judiciary and is committed to ensuring the professional benefits of judges,” he added. One of the goals of sustainable development is to create opportunities for justice for all by establishing a peaceful and just society, Abdul Hamid mentioned. The President called upon the judges to take care of the litigants’ rights so that they do not have to roam in the court’s corridor the day after day to get a copy of the judgement after the verdict of the case. “One thing to keep in mind is that if the dispute is not resolved properly, there will be a crisis of confidence. And if this process continues again and again, a chaotic situation may arise in the state and society,” he mentioned. The President hoped that the financially indigent and distressed litigants would get all the legal assistance in the courts from the beginning of the case till the disposal. Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq, MP, Attorney General of Bangladesh AM Amin Uddin and Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association Ruhul Quddus Kajal also spoke on the occasion. Justice Enayetur Rahim also spoke there paying tribute to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the occasion of the Mujib Year. Former justices, senior Judges, lawyers, secretaries to the President, high civil and military officials were also present there. A documentary on the history of the Supreme Court was also screened on the occasion. Source: BSS AH