DHAKA: Bangladesh on Monday suspended prayers for the public at mosques across the country in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus after four more COVID-19 patients died in the last 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 12.
"Four more people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, while another 35 cases were confirmed," Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora told an online media briefing.
She said the fresh reports of infections were detected as 468 samples were tested at 14 facilities, nine of them being in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Monday issued an emergency notice restricting the congregation in mosques.
The ministry urged the public to pray at home.
The notice also said that a maximum of 10 people can attend the weekly Friday prayers in mosques.
The government also restricted visits to other places of worship.
In several Muslim-majority countries, the 'azaan' (call for prayer) has been amended and now it urges people to pray in their homes.
Director General of Health Services Abul Kalam Azad said one of the four dead in the last 24 hours was a director of the independent Anti-Corruption Commission, who was being treated for infection along with two other family members.
The 48-year-old official died early Monday after eight days of treatment at the Bangladesh Kuwait Friendship Hospital, the hospital said.
Azad said 739 people were quarantined in the past 24 hours, 30 of them in institutional quarantine while another 23 suspects were kept on isolation.
The health officials briefing came hours after Health Minister Zahid Maleque issued a note of warning that Bangladesh was facing extra COVID-19 risks in the next 30 days as healthcare officials said the virus now appeared as a community wise pandemic.
"Community transmission of the virus has begun," a spokesman of the directorate general of health services said, adding that 64 of the 123 infection cases were reported from Dhaka and 23 from Narayanganj on the outskirts of the capital.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday announced stimulus packages to the tune of Taka 72,750 crore (USD 8,573 million) to counter the adverse effects of coronavirus on the country's economy.
"Earlier I declared Taka 5,000 crore (emergency) incentive package for paying salaries and allowances of export-oriented industry workers and employees and today I am announcing four fresh financial stimulus packages of Tk 67,750 crore," she said in a televised address from her official Ganobhaban residence.
"I hope our economy will rebound and we can reach near the desired economic growth, if the stimulus packages -- the previous and the fresh ones -- are quickly rolled out," she said.
Bangladesh on Saturday extended the nationwide transport shutdown till April 11.