Bangladesh to deploy army in lockdown to curb COVID-19 surge

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Fewer vehicles are seen on the street as the government imposed restrictions on public movement after the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases increased in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

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DHAKA, June 30 (Reuters) - Bangladesh is deploying army troops from Thursday to enforce a strict lockdown amid a record spike in coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant first detected in India, the government said on Wednesday.

Most restrictions imposed as part of a strict lockdown introduced in April have since been lifted, but a record spike in cases this week of the highly contagious Delta variant has prompted the government to order a week of tight controls.

"No one will be allowed go out except in case of an emergency during this period," the government said in a statement, adding army troops alongside law-enforcement agencies would be deployed to enforce the lockdown.

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All offices and transportation will be shut during this period while factories, including the country's prime garment export sector, will be allowed to remain open if they follow health protocols, it said.

Bangladesh sealed its border with India in April as a precaution against infection, although trade continues.

Bangladesh has seen a record surge in cases this week, with 7,666 new cases reported on Tuesday as well as 112 fatalities.

There have been 904,436 infections and 14,388 deaths reported in the country since the pandemic began.

Bangladesh's vaccination drive suffered a blow after India stopped exports of the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) shot in response to a record surge in domestic infections, with only three percent of its population of 170 million getting two doses.

Police have vowed to arrest if anyone comes out of their home without a valid reason.

"The stricter we are, the safer you will be," Dhaka city police chief Shafiqul Islam said.

Tens of thousands of migrant workers left the capital, Dhaka, over the weekend amid a looming strict lockdown.

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Reporting by Ruma Paul, Editing by William Maclean

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