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image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionThe strict lockdown measures come into force on Monday

Crowds of people have flocked to Dhaka's ferry terminals to try and get out of the city before a strict national lockdown comes into force.

For seven days from Monday, no one in Bangladesh will be allowed to leave their homes unless in an emergency.

As a result, people are fleeing the busy capital city for their homes in towns and villages.

Covid cases in the country have surged, many linked to the Delta variant first identified in neighbouring India.

The latest wave of the virus in Bangladesh began about six weeks ago. On 15 May there were 261 new cases and 22 deaths reported. On Friday there were 5,869 new cases and 108 deaths – the country's second-highest daily death toll of the whole pandemic.

Many hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and are struggling to cope, particularly those on the border with India.

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Because of the sharp rise in cases, rail and bus services are already suspended, with an exception for emergency services.

People hoping to leave the city have resorted to hiring private hire vehicles, or even walking, because of the transport closures.

A statement released by Bangladesh's Press Information Department (PID) said all offices, including government, semi-government and private offices, would also shut.

BBC South Asia editor Jill McGivering reports that low-income workers and day labourers will be among the worst hit by the stringent lockdown.

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionPeople are trying to flee Dhaka and get home to towns and villages

Health department spokesman Robed Amin told AFP news agency police and border guards would be deployed to enforce the lockdown and stop people from leaving their homes.

He added that the army could also be deployed if needed.

"It is a dangerous and alarming situation," he said. "If we don't contain it now, we will face an India-like situation."

A second wave of Covid infections, driven largely by the Delta variant, devastated India in April and May. Although the country is beginning to reopen, experts have warned it could see a third wave in the next few months.

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