DHAKA, Following is the full text of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s today’s address to the nation:
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
I would like to extend my heartiest greetings on the eve of the Great Independence and National Day.
I am recalling with due respect the foreign countries and the people who extended assistance during the Great Liberation War.
On this day today, I remember with deep respect the greatest Bangali of all times, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who awarded us an independent and sovereign country.
I am extending deep respect to the four national leaders. I recall three-million martyrs of the Liberation War and 2-hundred thousand repressed mothers and sisters. I am showing respect to all the freedom fighters. I am extending greetings to war-wounded freedom fighters and families of the martyrs on the eve of the Great Liberation War and National Day.
The Pakistani occupation force had initiated mass killings on the unarmed Bangalis on the dark night of March 25 in 1971. I am recalling all the martyrs who fell victims of the March 25.
I am recalling my mother Begum Fazilatun Nesa Mujib, three brothers-freedom fighter Sheikh Kamal, freedom fighter Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal, and 10-year-old Sheikh Russell- newly married wives of Kamal and Jamal, Sultana Kamal and Roji Jamal, my paternal uncle freedom fighter Sheikh Abu Naser, and all the martyrs brutally killed on August 15, 1975. Dear Countrymen,
This Independence Day is set to be celebrated in a different context. The entire world is now being rattled due to outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.
Rich or poor, developed or developing, small or big – all the countries are now being more or less affected by the fatal coronavirus. Our beloved Bangladesh is not free from the infectious disease.
In the given context, we have decided to celebrate this time’s Independence and National Day differently considering the public health. I am requesting all to refrain themselves from arranging the programmes having chances of mass gatherings.
Paying homage to the martyrs at the National Martyrs’ Memorial and children assembly across the country have already been announced suspended. Due to the same reason, we have broadcasted the inaugural programme of the “Mujib Borsho” through the television by avoiding mass gatherings.
Our independence is the outcome of long struggle and many sacrifices led by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
We had reached the historic moment of the March 7, 1971 after passing through 1948-52’s Language Movement, 54’s election, 62’s education movement, 66’s six-point and 11-point, 69’s mass upsurge and 70’s election.
He had announced standing beside the human sea at the Suhrawardy Udyan: “”Ebarer Shongram Amader Muktir Shongram, Ebarer Shongram Shadhinotar Shongram. Joy Bangla—‘ (“Our struggle this time is a struggle for our freedom, our struggle this time is a struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla—“).
The entire nation had started taking preparation for the Liberation War in response to the call of Bangabandhu. The Pakistani military force had begun killings on the innocent and unarmed Bangali on the black night of March 25 to bring to an end the Bangali’s Liberation War.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had formally declared Bangladesh’s Independence on the first hour of March 26. Pakistani military ruler took him to Pakistan under captivity.
The Bangali nation had achieved the final victory on December 16 in 1971 through the bloody nine-month war responding to the call of Bangabandhu.
The Father of the Nation returned to country on January 10 in 1972 after getting released from 10-month captivity in Pakistan jail. He started reorganising the war-ravaged Bangladesh. He had got only three and half a years after the independence.
He rehabilitated around one crore refugees after bringing them back to the country, arranged treatment and rehabilitation for the families of martyrs, war-wounded freedom fighters, repressed mothers-sisters and established them- all the works he had done in the three and half a years.
The Father of the Nation said, “Only desire of my life is to ensure food, clothing and developed life for the people Bangla.” When he devoted himself to reorganizing the country, the anti-liberation killers assassinated him along with 18 members of the family on August 15 in 1975. We, the two sisters, survived for being stayed abroad.
We have been tirelessly working for materialising the dream of the Father of the Nation. We are now at the final stage of establishing his poverty-free Bangladesh.
Bangladesh today joined the line of developing countries from the less developed countries. Bangladesh has already got recognition as lower-income country.
Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in production of crops, vegetable-fish-meat-egg. The construction of the own financed Padma Bridge is now at the final state. The work of Dhaka Metro Rail and tunnel under the Karnaphuli river in Chattogram has been progressing fast.
We are nearing completion of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. Our own Bangabandhu Satellite-1 has been launched into the space.
Our economic growth was 8.15 percent in the last year. We were heading towards achieving the target this year.
But the deadly coronavirus is going to put negative impact on public health alongside the global economy. This blow can affect us.
This time our topmost priority is to protect the life of people to be infected with the fatal virus.
This virus originated from Wuhan under Hubei province of China last January. It now spreads to 169 countries out of 195.
Over 422, 800 have so far been infected with the virus and 18,907 people died till yesterday. As many as 109,102 people have returned home after being recovered.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already announced the outbreak of the coronavirus as pandemic.
I know you are passing the days amid one sort of panic and anxiety. The people staying abroad are also anxious about the nearest ones.
I can realize the mental state of all. But, we have to face the situation with patience and bravery in such a critical time.
We all have to obey advices of health experts to prevent the virus. We have to avoid public gatherings as much as possible.
I request the brothers and sisters who returned home from the coronavirus affected countries to follow word by word the directives that included home quarantine and isolation at home.
Stay separately for 14 days only. It is necessary to obey the directives to save the lives of your family members, neighbours, locals, and overall the lives of people.
It will be easier to prevent coronavirus if the health tips are followed. Wash your hands frequently with soap-water. Cover your face with handkerchief or tissue paper to blow nose and coughing. Don’t throw after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Don’t throw spit here and there.
Abstain from shaking hands or embracing. Stay at home as much as possible. Don’t go out of the home without any urgency.
Stay at home upon completion of urgent work outside. Muslim brothers, offer prayers at home and I also request brothers and sisters of other religion to offer prayers at home.
IEDCR has opened hotline numbers. Besides, Society of Doctors also has 500 helpline numbers.
If any symptom of COVID-19 virus emerges, people are asked to contact helpline numbers.
Most of the people can recover from the disease as it is not deadly at all but the virus has the ability to spread quickly.
However, the COVID-19 is seemed deadly for the elderly people who have old aged-complications.
Please concentrate on the most sensitive person of your family and try to keep him or her well by taking time-befitting initiatives against the virus.
Panic makes people unable to think logically so don’t be panicked. Always remain vigilant so that your family members as well as your neighbors will not be infected with the virus.
Your awareness in this regard will protect you, your family and finally your country.
Screening test for returnees was arranged at three international airports including Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, two seaports, and all land ports along with Dhaka cantonment, Benapole railway following the coronavirus outbreak in China, the main epicenter of it.
A total of 6, 58,981 passengers have been screened so far.
We have taken massive programmes and preparations for the prevention of COVID-19 virus from the month of January.
A national committee led by health minister has been formed aiming to provide necessary directions and take pragmatic measures to prevent and combat coronavirus in the country.
Apart from it, Committees have been formed at city-corporation, municipality, district, upazila and union levels for coronavirus prevention.
Six hospitals have been prepared in Dhaka for coronavirus patients. Besides, five more hospitals are being prepared. Separate beds have been prepared for coronavirus patients in district-upazila level hospitals.
A total of 14,565 isolation beds, including 10,050 in Dhaka, have been prepared across the country.
Two hundred ninety organizations have been prepared for institutional quarantine across the country. A total of 16,741 people will get services from the institutional quarantine.
The first coronavirus patient was identified on March 8 in Bangladesh. Since then till yesterday 39 coronavirus patients have been identified.
Among them, four have been died. They were suffering from various diseases from before. Five of the identified patients have returned home.
Until yesterday, 37,038 people were kept in quarantine across the country. Out of them, 9,885 people have already returned home after getting the discharge certificates.
In addition, 267 people were kept in isolation. Out of them, 277 people returned home after getting the discharge certificates.
Arrangements have been taken to keep compulsory quarantine under the army of all the passengers arriving from abroad from March 19.
Ashkona Haji Camp and Ijtema Maidan at Tongi are being run for quarantine under the supervision of the army.
We have already stopped the on-arrival visa. Our missions abroad have been told not to grant visas to any foreign nationals.
The list of those coming from abroad is being sent to the district administration along with their addresses. The local administration is making arrangements to keep the expatriates in the home quarantine.
Dear countrymen Health workers must play the most important role in providing medical care to the infected people.
Sufficient equipment have been provided for their safety and there is enough stock of equipment.
There is also sufficient stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Don’t be misguided in this regard. Highest priority is being given to health workers’ safety.
Thirteen thousand test kits were in stock till yesterday. Thirty thousand more kits will reach the country soon.
Eight testing machines are in Dhaka. Works are underway to set up coronavirus testing laboratories in seven other divisions.
I am extending thanks to health workers, members of law enforcement agencies, armed forces and administration for making united efforts in containing the spread of the virus.
Consciousness raising campaign on coronavirus has been strengthened on radio-television and newspapers and social media. Leaflets have been distributed at district and upazila levels.
But none should spread rumor. Actions will be taken against those who will spread rumors.
Dear Countrymen, You have already known about the government steps to combat the coronavirus. Moreover, I am again mentioning some issues.
Since March 17, all schools, colleges and coaching centers have been kept shut down. Higher Secondary Examinations have been postponed.
All tourist and amusement centers were shut down. A ban has been imposed on every political, social and religious gathering.
From tomorrow, March 26, to April 4, all government and private offices will remain closed.
Emergency services including hospitals, kitchen markets, food and medicine shops will remain open.
Since last night, operation of passenger trains, vessels and domestic flights has remained suspended. The Bangladesh Bank will keep banking service in a limited scale. From March 24, maintaining social distancing has been enforced in divisional cities and district towns.
Members of army will extend cooperation to district administrations to make it effective. Stay wherever you are.
Bangladesh Medical Association and Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad have made a list of 500 physicians who will provide service to the people in containing coronavirus.
On March 15, I joined a videoconferencing with head of states and governments of SAARC nations with a view to fighting the spread of coronavirus on the basis of international and regional cooperation.
I am calling upon the leaders of SAARC nations to take united regional efforts to contain the outbreak of the disease.
Foreign ministries of the SAARC countries are working together to implement the recommendations. We have decided to form a joint fund where Bangladesh announced to provide $15 lac.
Various crisis moments came in national life in different times. Human beings have overcome those disasters through united efforts.
The mankind earlier prevented epidemics like plague, small pox and cholera.
But during these epidemics, the world did not remain so much closely connected like nowadays. During these periods, the huge number of people did not travel from one place to another or one country to another.
Because of that, coronavirus has spread all over the world in the quickest time. But science and technology has advanced a lot. With united efforts, the world community will definitely overcome the disaster soon.
We have to be patient and sensitive during this crisis period. None should try to take opportunity. There is no crisis of goods in markets. Supply chain remains unhampered inside and outside the country. You should not hike the prices of essential commodities illogically. You should not increase public sufferings. Steps have been taken for monitoring markets everywhere.
Many people lost their works due to the coronavirus (outbreak). We have to stand by them. The lower income people will be given assistance at their respective villages under the “Ghore Fera (return to home)” programme. Homeless and landless people will be given homes, food for six months for free and cash incentive. Deputy Commissioners (DCs) have already been instructed in this regard.
Accommodation for 100,000 people having employment facilities has been created at Bhashan Char. If anyone wants to go there, the government will take measures to this end.
Selling of rice at Taka 10 per kg and distribution of rice for free against VGD and VGF cards will continue. Similarly, medicines and healthcare services are being given free of cost. I urge the affluent people of the society to come forward for extending their cooperative hands to the lower income people.
Our industrial production and commercial export might be affected. We have taken some crisis-time measures to face the blow.
I have announced an incentive package of Taka 5,000 crore for export-oriented industrial institutions. The fund can only be used for paying salaries and allowances of the workers and staffers.
Besides, the Bangladesh Bank has already taken some business-friendly initiatives. The central bank has asked those concerned not to declare any client loan defaulter by June this year. Deadline of collecting income from export has been extended to six months from two months. Similarly, timeframe of meeting up import expenditure has also been extended to six months from four months. Limit of monetary transaction through mobile banking has been increased.
Time limit of paying electricity, water and gas bills has been extended till June without surcharges or fines. Paying installment of NGO loans has been suspended temporarily.
The whole world is going through an uncertainty. Our government, however, is ready to face any difficult situation.
We are the government of people. We are always beside the people. I, myself, am observing the situation round the clock.
Now is the time for us to maintain austerity. You should not buy extra consumer goods beyond your necessity. You should not stockpile. Give opportunity to the limited income people.
We are self reliant in food production. The country had a bumper yield of ‘Rupa Aman’ paddy this year. Over 17 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains remain stocked in the government godowns.
Besides, private mill owners and farmers have reserve of a large amount of foodgrains. Potato, onion, pepper and wheat have been bumper yielded in the current season.
A request to the farmer brothers, you should not keep any land uncultivated. You should yield more and more crops.
Humanity is tested during the time of disasters. It is high time to help each other; show humanity.
Bangali is a nation of brave people. Bangali nation faced different disasters and crisis together.
Fighting shoulder to shoulder in 1971, we clinched the victory against enemies. Combating coronavirus is also a war. Your responsibility in this war is to stay home. We will be the winner in the war with the efforts of all, Insha Allah.
I repeat: you should abide by health rules. All should stay at their respective homes, be well, be healthy and stay safe. May almighty Allah help us.
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu
Long Live Bangladesh
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)