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Coronavirus outbreak: Bangladesh suspends visa on-arrival for Chinese nationals

  • Published at 11:38 pm February 2nd, 2020
Coronavirus Zakir
File Photo: International flight passengers exit the international arrivals terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Chinese nationals in Bangladesh not allowed to visit home for a month; Temporary bar on new workforce directly from China; 8 returnees from Wuhan doing well in hospitals; Total 5,631 passengers from China screened since January 21; Cautionary measures at sea and land ports

As part of a contingency measure against the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak, the government has decided to suspend issuing visas on-arrival to Chinese nationals, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said on Sunday.

“We have asked the Chinese people living and working in Bangladesh not to visit their country for a month,” he told a press conference at the Foreign Ministry.

Saying no manpower will also be brought from China during this period for the ongoing Chinese projects in Bangladesh, the minister informed that the Chinese authorities have been informed about these matters, and they have agreed to it.

He said: “Our relationship with China is deep and extensive. They have been working in a number of mega projects in Bangladesh. There are many Chinese living in Bangladesh, who frequently visit China and come back to Bangladesh.”

“But we have recently made a decision. And we have informed the Chinese government. We also had a discussion with the Chinese ambassador last night [Saturday]. We told them that we are putting in place a rule under the current circumstances,” Momen said in response to a question.

“We provide visa on-arrival to the Chinese who come to Bangladesh. We have decided last night that we will temporarily stop issuing the on-arrival visa,” he added. 

He said: “They [Chinese] will have to obtain a Bangladesh visa from our consulates in China. In order to get a visa, they will have to produce a medical certificate stating that they don’t have any illness. This is a temporary move.” 

Replying to another query, the minister said he does not think there will be any negative impact on bilateral trade and commerce between the two countries due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus outbreak was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization last Friday, while the death toll stood at 305 on Sunday.

Conditions of 8 returnees better

A total of 316 Bangladeshi citizens who had been stranded in China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, returned home on a special flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines on Saturday.

Of them, seven were admitted to Kurmitola General Hospital and one at the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka as they were running fever. However, officials said on Sunday, all of them were now in better condition.

No presence of coronavirus symptoms were found in the 302 returnees, said Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, the director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.

All 302 people are now at Ashkona Hajj Camp, where they would be kept in quarantine for a total of 14 days.

Prof Meerjady also said that the Health Ministry has formed a 19-member quarantine management core committee to prevent coronavirus, with its Additional Secretary Habibur Rahman as the convener and Dhaka district’s Civil Surgeon Dr Moinul Hasan as the member secretary.

Cautionary measures at sea, land ports

Meanwhile, the new strain of the virus has managed to enter some 25 countries from China since the outbreak begun in December last year.

Under the circumstances, the Shipping Ministry has ordered the authorities of Chittagong, Mongla and Payra seaports, alongside all land ports, to take safety and cautionary measures to prevent coronavirus from spreading into Bangladesh.

The matter was disclosed at a discussion on Annual Development Programme at the ministry, presided over by State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, according to a press release issued on Sunday, reports BSS.

Thermal scanner would be used to screen the people arriving in Bangladesh, Khalid said, and added that before entering on the outer anchorage, captains of every ship will have to declare that all passengers including the crew underwent proper diagnosis and were not infected. 

Besides, captains, crew and passengers coming from East Asian countries will be allowed to enter into the port after proper scanning by health officers. 

According to the release, emergency ambulance ship has also been prepared to rush to the hospital with the person with suspected infection and medical teams have been set up at all land ports to screen everyone entering the country.