100,000 mourners defy Bangladesh coronavirus lockdown

More than 100,000 people defied Bangladesh’s coronavirus lockdown on Saturday to attend the funeral of one of the country’s most prominent Islamic scholars in the district of Brahmanbaria.

The estimated size of the crowd was confirmed by the Prime Minister’s special assistant, Shah Ali Farhad, and the Brahmanbaria police spokesman, Imtiaz Ahmed.

The funeral for Maulana Zubayer Ahmad Ansari broke the country’s ban of no more than five people attending prayers at one time, sparking fears of a new coronavirus outbreak emerging from the event.

Maulana Ansari, 56, died on Friday evening at his home at Brahmanbaria Sadar. He left behind his wife, three sons and four daughters.

People came from different parts of the country to attend the funeral and the crowd blocked nearly two kilometers of the Dhaka-Sylhet highway.

The officer in-charge of Sarail police station, Sahadat Hossain, said” “We couldn’t apprehend that so many people will gather for the funeral. We had nothing to do after the crowd started flooding in.”

A probe committee has been formed to investigate the event and is scheduled to submit its report today.

The incident has raised questions about the role of the authorities who were meant to maintain strict measures across the country to ensure social distancing.

On Sunday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque heavily criticised the local administration in Brahmanbaria for failing to stop the massive turnout of people at the funeral prayers.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has confirmed 10 more people (seven men and three women) have died of coronavirus infection in the last 24 hours, taking the number of deaths to 120.

In addition, 390 more people tested positive for COVID-19 over the same period, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 3,772.

A total of 92 individuals have recovered from the disease so far since Bangladesh recorded its first coronavirus case on March 8.

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