By Md. Kamruzzaman

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Amid alleged violations of social distancing and other COVID-19 health instructions, Bangladesh on Saturday started a special drive to vaccinate 3.2 million people across the country within six days without pre-registration.

This new campaign will be operated along with an ongoing regular inoculation as the nationwide lockdown continues.

Every day from 9 am to 3 pm the new vaccination campaign will be run simultaneously at 4,600 unions, 1,054 wards under municipalities, and 12 city corporations including the capital Dhaka, according to the Health Ministry.

A total of 32,706 vaccinators accompanied by 48,459 volunteers are taking part in the drive.

In the wake of an alarming global spike due to the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus, the South Asian nation of 165 million people launched this campaign to cover more marginal people.

Since February this year, Bangladesh has been running the nationwide vaccination campaign on a limited scale based on the supply of vaccines, obtained through commercial channels and as donation.

On Friday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said that people aged 25 or above would be allowed for inoculation under this special drive. “But people aged above 50, women and disabled will be prioritized.”

He also informed that marginal people in the country’s remote areas would have the opportunity to get vaccines under this stimulating package.

Meanwhile, social distancing and other COVID-19 health instructions have been allegedly violated during the inoculation as a huge number of people gathered at the government-declared vaccine centers across the country including in Dhaka, raising concerns of spreading the virus during the massive vaccination drive.

Bangladesh on Saturday recorded its highest single-day fatalities with 261 deaths, pushing the total tally to 22,411, while the caseload surged above 1.3 million, including 8,136 new cases. So far nearly 1.2 million people have recovered from the disease.

To date, Bangladesh has given over 14.7 million jabs, including the first and second doses, according to the latest official figures.

Underlining the growing need for vaccines in the prevailing situation, Maleque on Saturday told journalists that the country would sign an agreement with China soon to purchase 60 million more doses of vaccines.

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