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  • Last Update : 09:53 pm

Coronavirus outbreak: 361 Bangladeshi returnees to be kept on 14-day observation

  • Published at 12:39 pm January 31st, 2020
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque
File photo: Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque addresses the press at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday, January 31, 2020 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

A Biman flight is ready with 4 or 5 physicians to fly to China

The Bangladeshis returning from Wuhan city of China’s Hubei province will be kept on a 14-day medical observation at the Ashkona Hajj Camp in Dhaka. 

The step has been taken to prevent the virus from spreading in the country, Health Minister Dr Zahid Maleque said during a press briefing at the VIP lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport yesterday.

The authorities would provide necessary treatment if any of the 361 returnees were found to be affected, he added.

Earlier around 6:05pm, a special flight of Biman Bangladesh with five physicians left Dhaka for the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan.

The minister has called upon the families of the returnees to exercise patience during the observation period and urged them to hold back from meeting them when they arrive in Dhaka.

The government will provide regular updates on their condition, he added.

The decisions were taken at a meeting at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport's VIP conference room, which was attended by Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman. 

The health minister said: "Among the 361, there are 19 families with 18 children, two of whom are below the age of two."

After their return early today, they will first be taken to the Ashkona Hajj camp, where they will be screened [if necessary] and placed under observation for 14 days.

The initiatives have been taken after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the administration to take all possible measures to bring the willing Bangladeshis back, said the minister.

When asked, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said although the authorities were taking measures for bringing the Bangladeshis back from 22 institutes of Wuhan city, if the situation developed any further, they were prepared to bring the remaining Bangladeshis from other provinces. 

Haji camp prepared 

Visiting the camp at 9am before the briefing, the Dhaka Tribune correspondent noticed the presence of several BGB personnel at the entrance to the camp. 

Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque addresses the press at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday, January 31, 2020 | Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

One of the BGB members told Dhaka Tribune that the Bangladeshis returning from China would be kept in four separate dormitories situated on the second floor of the camp.

Sources at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said some 100 people would be accommodated in each of the dormitories, and the women and children in a separate dormitory. They will be provided with food and other facilities and none would be allowed to come out during their 14-day stay. 

Necessary training for this purpose has already been provided to the assigned physicians and all activities will be controlled through an office set up at the hajj camp. 

"They will be released after two weeks of the quarantine process. If any of them is identified with the virus, they will be taken to Kurmitola General Hospital or Combined Military Hospital or Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital for treatment," Zahid Maleque said.

Adequate testing kits available

The Director General (DG) of DGHS, Abul Kalam Azad, said that adequate testing kits were there to tackle any emergent situation and the tests would be done at the laboratories of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR). 

"We are also closely monitoring the current situation, and also have contact with the World Health Organization (WHO) and US CDC. 

Around one thousand testing kits arrived at IEDCR on Thursday, said Dr Meerjadi Sabrina Flora. 

More testing kits would arrive soon, she added.

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