COVID-19: Bangladesh Army says troops will be on streets until govt recalls
The Bangladesh Army on Sunday said some 3,500 soldiers would maintain their presence on the streets to strictly enforce social distancing to combat the coronavirus threat and would return to their barracks only on the orders of the government.
Dhaka: The Bangladesh Army on Sunday said some 3,500 soldiers would maintain their presence on the streets to strictly enforce social distancing to combat the coronavirus threat and would return to their barracks only on the orders of the government.
Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed said that his troops would do "everything possible" under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic as their presence on the streets appeared to have "highly energised" the common people and the civil administration.
The virus has claimed the lives of five people and infected 48 others in the country, according to health officials.
The Army will render its service in aid to civil power as long as the government wants, the Daily Sun newspaper quoted the four-star general as saying.
General Ahmed said that the troops' deployment seemed to have mentally relieved the people and the officials amid fears about the course of the pandemic in the coming days.
Prime Minister Hasina called the campaign against COVID-19 a "war" as her government has called out the armed forces to assist nationwide the administration in combating the pandemic in the country.
A defence ministry spokesman, meanwhile, said that some 3,000 military personnel and 400 Navy troopers were deployed across the country mainly to enforce "social distancing" while the Air Force was kept ready for ferrying men and medical aid to any part of Bangladesh.
He said that the new batches of troops will replace periodically the personnel already deployed on the COVID-19 duty while the previous ones would be quarantined on return to their barracks for safety.
Defence ministry's inter service public relations directorate earlier said that the personnel would prepare lists of coronavirus-infected persons, extend cooperation to the local administrations to ensure quarantining of people who returned from abroad alongside enforcing the social distancing.
The troops are seen patrolling the streets in capital Dhaka and other cities mounting megaphones on their vehicles to ask people to stay indoors and disperse usual neighbourhood crowds.
Authorities apparently ordered a nationwide virtual lockdown shutting offices, businesses and halting all modes of public transports this week days after closing schools and restricting overseas flight operations.
Bangladesh declared a 10-day nationwide holiday beginning March 26 in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, and called in Army troops to enforce social distancing as the World Health Organisation (WHO) called it the most crucial means to prevent the spread of the virus.
The country has called in the armed forces in the past as well especially during floods and cyclones in aid of the civil administration.