Dhaka, July 18 (EFE).- Authorities Sunday began vaccinating workers from the export-oriented textile industry, the leading foreign exchange earner for Bangladesh, as the country struggles to contain a new wave of the coronavirus outbreak that has dented the economy.
The vaccination program began in textile hub Gazipur, near capital Dhaka, where authorities expected to vaccinate 10,000 workers on the first day of the drive.
“Vaccination program for industrial workers has started today. Bangladesh will ensure vaccination for all workers and staffs,” Gazipur administration chief Tarikul Islam told EFE.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) welcomed the move.
“We already spoke to the health minister to give the workers priority as frontline people. Vaccination is better than lockdown. It is a good initiative,” BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told EFE.
“All workers will get vaccinated in phases. We estimate this figure will be around four million. The duration of the program will depend on the availability of the vaccine,” he said.
BGMEA member Hanifur Rahman Lotus said all workers 18 and above would be eligible for the vaccination.
“We have been assured by the (health chief) of Gazipur that all 2.5 million workers of the area will be vaccinated. We expect the program will be extended in others areas soon,” he said.
The textile sector contributed 81.16 percent or $31.45 billion to the national exports of $38.75 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which ended in June.
The sector posted 12.55 percent growth in the fiscal year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the data by the Bangladesh export promotion bureau showed.
Bangladesh’s overall export grew by 15.1 percent during the period, the data showed.
Bangladesh allowed all industrial units, including textile factories, to stay open during the recent lockdown to keep the economy rolling.
The country has recorded over 17,000 deaths from Covid-19 and nearly 1.1 million cases since the pandemic in March 2020.
Over 15 percent of deaths and cases came in the past two weeks, the worst phase of the pandemic when the country logged an average of 10,000 infections a day.
Authorities relaxed a nationwide lockdown until July 22 for Eid-ul-Adha, the second-biggest Muslim festival but vowed to enforce harsher restrictions after that. EFE