COVID-19: Bangladesh postpones Parliament session

Bangladesh postpones special Parliament session over coronavirus

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. (PTI Photo)

Bangladesh on Saturday postponed a special parliament session scheduled for March 22 and 23 to mark the birth centenary of its founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the WHO asked the country to prepare for a partial lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which has claimed two lives in the country.

Bangladesh has invited former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to address the session.

"The special session (slated for March 22 and 23) has been called off," a Bangabhaban presidential palace spokesman briefly told PTI.

President's press secretary Joynal Abedin, however, said the special session could be reconvened at a convenient time.

The extraordinary session was supposed to be the third such instance when foreign dignitaries would address Bangladesh's parliament. The then Indian president VV Giri and erstwhile Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito had addressed Bangladesh's Parliament in 1972 and 1974.

Mujibur Rahman served as the first President of Bangladesh and later as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from April 17, 1971 until his assassination on August 15, 1975.

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He is considered to be the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh. He is popularly known as "Bangabandhu" (Friend of Bengal) in Bangladesh. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current Prime Minister of the country.

The decision to postpone the session came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) Saturday suggested Bangladesh to prepare for a partial and eventually a complete lockdown to prevent spread of the COVID 19.

The country's health authorities on Saturday confirmed the second death due to the coronavirus.

Health minister Zahid Maleque at a media briefing said four more persons were detected with Covid-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 24.

"WHO is apprehensive," Mayor of Dhaka's northern part Sayeed Mohamad Khokon told a media briefing after a meeting with a WHO delegation.

Bangladesh earlier postponed the March 17 grand inauguration of Rahman's birth centenary celebrations hours after three coronavirus cases were detected in the country on March 9 and subsequently closed schools and other educational institutions.

The year-long celebrations were scheduled to open amid massive festivities on March 17 and were expected to be attended by several foreign dignitaries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who later joined the scaled-down ceremony through a video-conferencing.

The government earlier this week also ordered a ban on all social, political, religious and cultural gatherings asking people to stay indoors.

More than 274,800 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus across the world and 11,389 have died. Bangladesh reported its first death on March 18.

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