• Wednesday, Dec 01, 2021
  • Last Update : 12:54 am

Bangladeshis can enter Italy from August 1

  • Published at 12:17 pm July 16th, 2020
Saudi Arabia migrant workers return
File photo of migrant workers returning home, at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Foreign Ministry refutes allegations that Bangladeshis travelled to the European country with fake Covid-19 certificates

Bangladeshis will be able to travel to Italy from August 1, as opposed to October 6, as the Italian authorities have reduced the entry ban on travellers from the country, including Bangladesh citizens. 

According to a press note issued by Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, flights to Italy from Bangladesh, along with 12 other countries, are now suspended till July 31.

Earlier on July 9, the Italian government banned the entry of all passengers from 13 countries, including Bangladesh, till October 5 in a bid to fight the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The move came after a significant number of passengers on a special flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines tested positive for Covid-19 when they landed in Rome, Italy on July 6.

Initially, the Italian authorities issued a one-week suspension in response to the incident, but then issued the new directive, according to media reports citing a Qatar Airways statement sent to its business partners.

In Thursday’s statement, the Foreign Ministry also refuted the allegations that Bangladesh nationals had gone to Italy with fake Covid-19 certificates. 

The ministry said around 1,600 Bangladeshis, who recently travelled to Italy, did not carry fake certificates citing they were Covid-19 negative. 

They also said the Italian authorities had not made it mandatory to carry health certificates as proof of Covid-19 negative status in order to enter the country. 

“Some of these [Bangladesh] passengers on their own carried Covid-19 negative certificates, just in case they required those subsequently,” the Foreign Ministry statement says. 

However, some Bangladeshis who travelled to Italy in the recent days did not follow the mandatory quarantine rule, and probably a few of them might have spread the virus in the community, the statement added.

In the last one week, out of 5,000 tests, 65 Bangladeshi residents in the Lazio region of Italy, which includes Rome, have been detected with Covid-19, the press release said.

It further added that the Italian government had decided to conduct Covid-19 tests for all Bangladesh citizens – around 30,000 – living in the Lazio region, in coordination with the Bangladesh Embassy in Rome.

The Italian health authorities issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) on July 6, barring anyone travelling from Bangladesh from entering Italy till October 5, after 21 among the 225 Bangladeshis arriving in Rome on a special flight tested positive for Covid-19. 

“Effective from July 8 and valid till October 5, 2020, passengers are not allowed to travel to Italy from Bangladesh irrespective of any nationality and irrespective of any routing involved where the flight originates from Bangladesh,” read a Qatar Airways statement issued on the same day.

The ban included 12 other countries as well: Armenia, Bahrain, Bosnia, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, and Peru, AFP reported.

Rome-based daily Il Messaggero reported earlier this month that as many as 600 Bangladeshis infected with Covid-19, but undetected, had been moving around in Rome and Italy.

This report was published after several batches of Bangladesh nationals went to Italy after the latter country reopened its border in June. 

''Our experts made calculations, based on the data obtained from the sample of passengers on the special flight arriving from Dhaka on Monday, in which 13% of the passengers tested positive," Alessio D'Amato, health councillor of Lazio, told Il Messaggero.

D'Amato called it a "veritable viral 'bomb' that we've defused."

The newspaper also reported that in Dhaka it was possible to purchase bogus health certificates for as little as €36 – roughly equivalent to Tk3,500 – allowing citizens to leave the country despite being potentially infected, quoting Mohammed Taifur Rahman Shah, president of the Italy-Bangla association that has been helping newly-arrived Bangladeshis in Italy for many years.

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