DHAKA, APR 3 – Bangladesh will impose a one-week nationwide lockdown starting Monday to stem the spread of COVID-19, said government officials.

“As the coronavirus situation is worsening to an alarming proportion, the government is going to enforce a nationwide lockdown from Monday,” Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader told the media on Saturday.

Underlining the rapid spread of the virus in the last couple of days, Quader added that the lockdown is a preliminary step and might be extended.

In the last 24 hours the South Asian country saw 58 deaths and 5,683 new cases, bringing the death toll to 9,213 while over 630,000 people have been infected.

Fighting off a third wave, the country has seen a rapid rise of COVID-19 deaths and infections over the last week, with an average death tally of nearly 50 per day and around 6,000 daily infections.

Under the lockdown, all types of public gatherings including shopping malls, restaurants, community centers, and other markets will remain closed.

Visits to all tourist zones including Cox’s Bazar beach will also be prohibited, and all hotels, motels, and other guesthouses will be restricted to tourists only.

Grocery stores, vegetable and fish markets, and pharmacies will remain open.

Mass transportation by land and water will also reportedly be suspended.

Bangladesh‘s first nationwide lockdown last March was extended several times, but was lifted in May, citing economic hardship.