Bangladesh’s health care system is buckling under the ferocity of the country’s third, and by far deadliest, wave of coronavirus infections, and only 4 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Yet the country of 165 million people lifted much of its lockdown on Wednesday.
Banks, shops and malls were allowed to reopen, and buses and trains were operating at half capacity. That followed the reopening of the garment industry, a mainstay of the economy, two weeks ago.
And while health experts feared that the lifting of restrictions would worsen the outbreak, the effect of the restrictions on people’s livelihoods in Bangladesh has been devastating. The pandemic has pushed at least 24.5 million into poverty, according to an April study.
Government advisers say the country’s leaders have little choice but to reopen. “It’s not possible for the government to keep the country locked down forever,” Mohammad Shahidullah, the president of the government’s Covid-19 committee, told the local news media.