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Govt to offer 3 crore doses free vaccine to frontliners

Breach of mask rules may lead to jail term

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Staff Reporter :
The government has decided to offer three crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine as free of cost to frontline workers as per rules of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It will be in the first phase of the vaccination process amid the coronavirus epidemic.
Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam said it on Monday  during a press briefing after a cabinet meeting presided over by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina about tackling the possible second wave of the coronavirus attack.
As per the government decision three crore doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University would be procured.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved this plan on October 14, the Cabinet Secretary said.
The government inked a deal on November 5 in this regard with India's Serum Institute and Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd of Bangladesh.
The Cabinet Secretary said, "The finance department allocated Tk 735 crore and 77 lakh for the health services directorate on November 16  to buy the vaccine. Now, the proposal to buy the vaccine has been forwarded to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs."
Replying to a query, the Cabinet Secretary said, "WHO has a guideline in this regards. The world body is developing a programme outlining that who will get the vaccine first and who will get it in the second phase."
"As per the protocol, frontline workers like the police, the people in the administration who are working in the field, then the elderly and the children will be given priority respectively," he said.
"This vaccine will be given free of cost as the government is subsidising it. Three crore doses of the vaccine will be given free," the Secretary elaborated.
Replying to another query, he said, "If anyone commits corruption during distribution of the vaccine, let them know that we will take strict action against those persons."
Anwarul Islam said that the actual cost of buying the vaccine will not be clear until a purchase agreement is finalised.
The issue of cost of the vaccine will be discussed in the Cabinet Committee meeting on economic affairs on December 2, he added.
Breach of mask rules may lead to jail term: the Cabinet Secretary said also that the government has instructed the authorities to take harsher measures to enforce mask rules amid the resurgence of coronavirus infections.
He said a breach of rules may lead to a jail term alongside a fine.
"We instructed to the law enforcers to take strict action over the use of masks. People without face masks outdoors will have to pay Tk 500 in fine. We have asked the mobile courts to toughen punishment and collect highest fine."
He said that the result of the mobile court operations over the use of face masks is positive outside Dhaka. People in district towns are becoming more careful.
In case of ignoring mask wearing, people will have to face jail terms finally," the Cabinet Secretary said.
In a bid to tackle the possible second wave of coronaviurs attack, the government had made mandatory for all to wear masks outside the houses.
The mobile courts are conducted drives alongside running awareness campaigns to ensure using masks and other health safety rules.

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