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Monday, June 5, 2023

Never said unvaccinated travel would be punishable offence: Health Ministry

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The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says it has not recommended that travels by adults after August 11 without receiving the COVID vaccine be treated as a ‘punishable offence’, contrary to the words of Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque.

The clarification was part of a notice sent out by the health ministry’s Senior Information Officer Maidul Islam to media outlets on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.

“Various television channels are saying that ‘anyone over the age of 18 will not be allowed to travel outside without a vaccine’, but this was not a comment made by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the statement said.

Following a meeting with high-level government officials on the state of the COVID pandemic and possible next steps on Tuesday, Liberation War Affairs Minister Mozammel Haque said that the ongoing lockdown restrictions would be extended by five days to Aug 10.

The government will expand its vaccination drive in the coming week and allow stores, businesses and offices to reopen on Aug 11, he said.

He had also said that public transport would resume on a limited scale. But no one will be allowed to travel if they did not get the vaccine, the minister had said.

“If, after Aug 11, someone over the age of 18 travels without having received a vaccine, it shall be considered a punishable offence. Anyone travelling by road or river, by car, motorcycle, autorickshaw, bus, train, whatever transport, must have received the vaccine. We will make the process simple and prioritise,” he said.

“Information on vaccine recipients will be uploaded directly to a website – no one will get anywhere by lying. On Aug 7, Aug 8 and Aug 9, we will give them the opportunity to get vaccines before stores open. The meeting made this decision so stores can reopen from Aug 11.”

But the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare contradicted the minister’s statement the very next day.

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