Around 3,00,000 people came from abroad. Most of them could not be traced
The police fear the current coronavirus situation in the country may deteriorate further as a significant number of people who returned from abroad could not be traced.
Between March 1 and 20, around 3,00,000 people returned from abroad, according to the police. A significant number of them came from countries with coronavirus outbreaks.
According to the police, the returnees fled to their homes from the airport. Only 18,000 are reportedly in voluntary quarantine. There is no trace of the others.
The police claim that it has failed to trace them because most of the returnees listed incorrect addresses and could not be found at the listed addresses.
Various media reports have found that the returnees were going out in public, from weddings to shopping malls to tourist spots, ignoring the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Two returnees from the United States attended a wedding in Gaibandha around 10 days ago. Many of the attendees later went on to vote in the Gaibandha-4 by-polls.
On Sunday, the two US returnees were diagnosed with coronavirus, spreading panic throughout Gaibandha’s Sadullapur upazila.
Same picture can be seen in Dhaka as well. Paltan police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Abu Bakkar Siddique said: “We get a lot of calls from relatives or neighbours of people returning from abroad. Duly, we send our forces led by an officer to the house.”
“We received information of 79 returnees till Monday, of whom 29 have been identified. Five of the 29 returnees left the country again, while another 12 went to their relatives' homes in villages, with the rest in quarantine,” he said.
Based on reports, police officials say that if people returning from abroad do not voluntarily quarantine themselves, then there will be dire consequences.
Various media reports quoted doctors and dignitaries as saying that Bangladesh is ill prepared to take on the crisis.
Until now, physicians and nurses have not been properly provided with personal protection equipment (PPE). Doctors fear for their safety even when patients with simple coughs or fever come to the hospital.
Action against quarantine breakers
According to sources at the Ministry of Home Affairs, the police have been instructed to take action against those who are defying their 14-day quarantine.
The Special Branch of the police have been tasked to prepare a list of those who came to Bangladesh in March. The police are currently going to their houses to see if they are following quarantine rules.
So far the police have taken action against people in Munshiganj, Manikganj, Madaripur, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, and Jhalokati.
Police HQ spokesperson, Additional Inspector General Sohel Rana, said the police have stopped public gatherings in the country, and called for recent returnees to submit their contact information to the nearest police stations.
Till the writing of this report, Bangladesh recorded five deaths and 39 infections from the Covid-19 pandemic announced by the World Health Organization (WHO).