DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh began COVID-19 vaccinations for garment factory workers on Sunday, amid growing concern over the Delta variant and the safety of tens of thousands of workers associated with the sector, according to official sources.

In response to a new wave of the global pandemic, which has seen a rise in the number of deadly Delta variant cases, the overcrowded South Asian country of nearly 165 million people has been observing a stricter nationwide lockdown since July 1, but exempting the garment sector from the restrictions.

On the first day, 10,000 workers from four factories got doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Currently, nearly 4 million people work in this sector, many of them destitute women and young women from rural areas.

But in the last 16 months, after the country first detected COVID-19 in March 2020, these workers were left out of the vaccine campaign, drawing sharp criticism.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) had earlier written to the government, demanding that the garment factory workers be vaccinated as early as possible.

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 17,894 people in the country so far, including 225 in the last 24 hours, with a total caseload of over 1.1 million, according to the Health Ministry.

In total, nearly 11.1 million shots have been administered in the country, including both first and second doses, and more than 10.6 million people have registered for the shots.

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