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Fears about flights coming from countries most affected by Covid-19

  • Published at 09:12 pm March 17th, 2020
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File photo of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka Dhaka Tribune

Several flights from various coronavirus infected countries landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, which is raising concerns among the general public

Bangladeshi citizens arriving from various countries are raising concerns about public safety in Bangladesh amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two USA and Ivory Coast citizens were pushed back from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport yesterday, denying them on-arrival visa as that service has been stopped for now to combat the coronavirus threat.

Meanwhile, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight with 409 Bangladeshis, most of whom went to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 4:15pm yesterday.

They went through health screenings and no suspected patients were found.

Previously, on Monday, 95 Bangladeshis who arrived in Dhaka from Italy and European countries were released from Ashkona Hajj Camp quarantine centre after proper screening. 

Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) doctors conducted screening and released them after strictly advising them to stay in self-quarantine at home for fourteen days. 

However, the decision raised questions among people about the effectiveness of self quarantine as reports across the country surfaced that many people are not abiding by the rules of home quarantine.

IEDCR Director Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora said, they have repeatedly asked the returnees to follow the home quarantine rules. 

Home quarantine is an internationally accepted standard procedure, she added.

“It [Covid-19] has not spread to community level yet but is spreading among family members of the returnees,” she said.

As the coronavirus positive cases are being found among the returnees and spreading through them, people are concerned whether the authorities should be more strict about the flights from infected countries.

The Civil Aviation Authority says, the Qatar Airways flight that had 95 Bangladeshi passengers from European countries got approval for landing on humanitarian grounds and that would be the last one till March 31.

“No other flights will be accepted further,” said Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, director (security) of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.  

He said: “In light of the Covid-19 pandemic Bangladesh government previously suspended all on-arrival visas. This is why we have barred the two foreign nationals today [Tuesday] from entering the country and sent them back on the same flight,”.

“We are now more concerned about the inbound flights," he added.

About the flight carrying 409 Bangladeshi citizens from Saudi Arabia, Dr Md Shahriar Sazzad, health officer at the airport told Dhaka Tribune, the plane departed from Jeddah International Airport and before reaching the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport the flight had a transit at Hazrat Shahporan International Airport in Sylhet.

Screening of those who arrived at Dhaka airport is on-going, he added.

Md Mokabbir Hossain, managing director of Biman Bangladesh Airlines said, all the returnees tested negative for the virus.