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Deputy commissioners have been asked to enforce the directives within seven days, he added. "In the last two weeks, the number of covid patients was 250 on average but yesterday the country recorded 675 patients, which is very alarming," he said.

Maleque also asked people to remain more careful. "Passengers won't be allowed to travel in public transport without masks, and passengers will be fined if found without masks."

"Both the shop owners and customers will be fined if they defy the directives," he said.

No lockdown now 

"The government is not considering any lockdown in the country right now and we will think about it if the infection rate goes up further," said the health minister.

Measures will be taken to strengthen screening along the border, he said. "Some 20,000 hospital beds have been kept ready. We are thinking about our future steps if the number of patients rises."

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