DHAKA, Bangladesh 

Following a two-month break, Bangladesh resumed mass registration Wednesday for COVID-19 vaccination in the wake of an alarming spike in the global pandemic, according to official sources.

“We have resumed countrywide mass registration for enrolment in the inoculation process so we can cover more people under the drive,” the Director General of Bangladesh’s health directorate, Dr. ABM Khurshid Alam, told Anadolu Agency by phone.

Describing the move as very important, he said all citizens aged 35 and above can apply for the vaccine. Previously, the minimum age was 40.

To date, more than 10 million vaccine jabs, including first and second doses, have been administered in the country of over 166 million people.

For the first time, the single-day death tally in Bangladesh crossed the 200-mark, with 201 new fatalities Wednesday, taking the total to 15,593, while the total number of cases stood at 977,568, including 11,162 new infections.

Bangladesh started a pilot vaccination program on Jan. 27 this year and a nationwide program on Feb. 7 by administering Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

On April 25, however, the government had to suspend the first dose of the vaccine campaign, a day after India stopped exporting the vaccine due to a record-breaking surge in cases and deaths there. Even in the first week of May, Bangladesh postponed registration for vaccination due to the shortage of vaccine supply.

Bangladesh signed a deal with India on Dec. 13, 2020 to purchase 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in installments from the Serum Institute of India.

Dhaka, however, managed to get just 7 million doses in two installments although India gifted 3.2 million doses as a sign of friendship.

The director of the health directorate, Dr. Mizanur Rahman, told journalists Tuesday that people can register for the vaccine through a government-approved app called Surokkha, which means “Protection.”

This time, Bangladesh will administer the Chinese Sinopharm and US Moderna vaccines to people. China has gifted Bangladesh with 1.1 million vaccines while Dhaka has already purchased 2 million more from Beijing.

Last week, Bangladesh also received 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine provided by the US as a gift through the COVAX facility, which is meant to deliver vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

Rahman said the Sinopharm jabs will be administered at 40 centers in Dhaka and at all district hospitals from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and the Moderna vaccine at 12 city corporations.

More vaccines

Bangladesh Health Minister Zahid Maleque told journalists Tuesday that the country could receive 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility this month, and the Serum Institute of India could resume shipments from next month.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency the health directorate director general, however, said that as there is still a crisis in India, Bangladesh is prioritizing other sources for vaccines.

“But if India begins the supply as per a commercial deal signed between the two countries, that will be more helpful for Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh’s Religious Affairs Ministry in a notification Tuesday urged countrymen to come to the mosque only to perform mandatory prayers after completing additional prayers at home.

The notification also urged devotees to perform ablution at home while wearing masks is mandatory and mosque authorities have been asked to keep enough soap, water and sanitizer ready at the entrance to ensure hygiene.

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