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Voting in Dhaka by-polls amid COVID-19 pandemic

Dhaka, March 21 (IANS) Voting took place in the by-polls to the Dhaka-10 parliamentary seat on Saturday amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

More than 312,000 people are eligible to cast their ballots in the polls that started at 9 a.m. and will end at 5 p.m., reports bdnews24.

Electronic voting machines (EVM) are being used in the Dhaka polls as a protective measure to pin an effort to stop the spread of the virus , said Returning Officer GM Sahtabuddin.

Hand sanitisers and facemasks have been arranged for the election officers, he said.

“There are hand sanitisers and tissue in every polling booth. Health workers supervised by the civil surgeon will be present in the constituencies.”

There are banners carrying awareness information on the novel coronavirus in the polling centres, the returning officer said.

A small number of voters showed up in different centres after the voting opened.

The Dhaka-10 parliamentary seat became vacant after Awami League MP Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh resigned from the post to contest the mayoral election.

Gaibandha-3 and Bagerhat-4 seats also went to the by-polls after the seats fell vacant following the deaths of MPs. The Election Commission (EC) is using traditional ballots for voting for these two seats.

The by-polls were taking place amid criticism for holding an election at a time when people are advised to practise social distancing, reports bdnews24.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party demanded deferring the polls but the EC did not budge.

“We went for the Saturday by-poll expecting a low turnout due to the coronavirus situation,” said EC Secretary Md Alamgir.

“There’ll be hand sanitisers at the centres. Please use it before and after casting your vote. Wash hands prior and after voting,” he said.

Those suspected to be infected with the coronavirus should not turn up for voting, the secretary said.

Bangladesh has so reported 20 coronavirus cases, with one fatality.




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