The virus has already spread into more than 10 countries, including India, over the past few days
A number of medical teams started working on Monday at several land ports and immigration check posts under different districts, along the border with India, to make sure that China’s novel coronavirus outbreak does not spread in Bangladesh.
Thousands of people travel between Bangladesh and India every day through these ports and border points.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has instructed the authorities concerned to carry out primary medical examinations to look for symptoms, if any, of the recent outbreak of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China.
The virus has already spread into more than 10 countries, including India, over the past few days.
From 9am to 5pm every day until further notice, the medical teams formed on Monday will carry out checkups on people arriving from other countries for symptoms of infection, according to the civil surgeons of these districts.
The moves were made a day after directives came from the Health Ministry and the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in Dhaka.
A control room was also set up at IEDCR on Sunday to oversee everything being done to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread in Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday also ordered all government officials to stay vigilant in order to make that sure.
She also ordered officials concerned to make sure that people arriving here through all types of ports from China or its neighbouring countries were screened thoroughly, to ensure that they were not bringing the coronavirus into the country.
In Chuadanga, a six-member medical team led by Dr Shakil Arsalan, Medical Officer at Chuadanga Sadar Hospital, began conducting the medical examinations at the Darshana immigration check-post from Monday.
Three of the six will conduct checkups by the Gede-Darshana international railway station when trains from and to India cross the station, confirmed Chuadanga Civil Surgeon ASM Maruf Hasan.
Around 3000 people cross over the border through the check-post and railway station every day.
In Satkhira, a four-member medical team of village doctors at Bhomra land port began medical examinations on Monday.
Satkhira Civil Surgeon Dr Md Husain Safayat said: "We remain alert to the virus threat after receiving directives from the DGHS. The medical team will look for symptoms of the virus and if such is found in any patients, they will be taken to the district hospital. IEDCR in Dhaka will be notified of the patient's situation."
In Dinajpur, a five-member medical team began medical checkups at the Hili immigration check-post on Monday.
Dr Nazmus Sayeed of Hakimpur Upazila Health Complex said the medical team had been conducting primary health checkups and providing medical advice to people crossing the Hili immigration check-post.
Around 600 people, mostly Bangladeshis, cross over to India everyday, according to Hili immigration check-post officer-in-charge Rafikuzzaman.
In Brahmanbaria, a health desk under a community healthcare services proprietor has been operating at the Akhaura immigration check post to perform basic medical examination of around 1,500 travellers.
Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi trader identified as Shwakat Hossain was sent back in Bangladesh from the Indian border as the authorities found he had travelled to China two months ago.
Brahmanbaria Civil Surgeon Dr Md Shah Alam said: "We are operating the health desk after instructions from the DGHS. We haven't found any symptoms of Coronavirus after testing the Bangladeshi trader."
In Chapainawabganj, a three-member medical team was formed at the Sonamasjid land port in Chapainawabganj.
District Civil Surgeon Dr Zahid Nazrul Chowdhury said: "The team will conduct medical examinations from Tuesday. If we suspect anyone who might be carrying the virus, they will be isolated and given symptomatic treatment. This will be continued until further instructions from the higher authorities"
Around a hundred Bangladeshi and Indian citizens, including truck drivers, their assistants and businessman cross the border through Sonamasjid land port daily.