Thousands of people were trapped in the capital of Bangladesh before the authorities began implementing a week-long full lockdown on Thursday to combat the deadly resurgence of COVID-19 infection.
The country reported that the number of new infections exceeded 8,300 on Monday and 119 people died on Sunday.
Its total number of cases is close to 900,000, and the death toll from COVID-19 only exceeds 14,000. But experts said that due to possible underreporting, the actual number may be much higher.
Officials blamed the recent spike on the highly contagious delta variant first discovered in neighboring India.
As part of the restrictions, most of the 168 million people in this South Asian country will be confined at home by Thursday, allowing only basic services and some export-oriented factories to operate.
The government’s cabinet secretary, Khandker Anwarul Islam, said that the army will be deployed from Thursday to help implement the blockade.
“The armed forces will conduct patrols. If anyone ignores their orders, they will take legal action,” he told reporters late on Monday.
The blockade announcement triggered an outflow of migrant workers from Dhaka to their hometown on Sunday. Thousands of people crowded into the ferry to cross a large river.
The staggered implementation of the lockdown rules forced thousands of workers in Dhaka to walk to the office on Mondays during the hot summer days, sometimes for several hours.
Commuters said the government allowed rickshaws to operate at the last minute on Sunday, but prices soared to unaffordable levels.
In mid-April, as the number of cases and deaths jumped to the highest level since the pandemic began, restrictions on activities and movements were imposed across Bangladesh.
The number of infections declined in May, but started to rise again this month, which has triggered stricter restrictions in this South Asian country.
Health officials around the world are shocked by the rapid spread of the Delta variant. According to the World Health Organization, the variant has spread to at least 85 countries.
A recent study by the Independent International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Dhaka stated that more than two-thirds of new COVID-19 cases in the capital of Bangladesh belong to the Delta variant.