Bangladesh

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Bangladesh at high risk of coronavirus

Bangladeshi infected in Italy, Chinese ambassador says screening inadequate, US puts Bangladesh on 25 high risk countries 

Manzur H Maswood and Shakhawat Hossain  | Published: 00:56, Mar 05,2020 | Updated: 19:25, Mar 05,2020

 
 

Bangladesh remains at high risk of the coronavirus spread as officials said that Bangladesh’s connectivity with the countries where regular incidences of the novel virus occurred left it to the chance of virus infection anytime.

‘We are at high risk of the coronavirus spread which has compelled us to urgently act to take preventive measures against the spread of the highly contagious novel virus,’ said the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research director Meerjady Sabrina Flora on Wednesday.

The USA and China also voiced concerns over Bangladesh as it was at high risk of coronavirus spread, which so far affected 73 countries including neighbouring India, killing around 3,000 people globally and infecting over 90,000 people.

Chinese ambassador in Bangladesh, Li Jiming, on Wednesday said Bangladesh was at high risk of coronavirus infection as it was spreading in the neighbouring countries.

Speaking at the Padma Bridge Rail Link project site at Keraniganj, he urged the Bangladesh authorities to strengthen the screening measures at the ports of entry.

Jiming alleged that Bangladesh was screening mainly Chinese nationals at the ports while passengers from other countries were not properly being screened though now about 95 per cent of the cases are from outside China.

The IEDCR director said new countries are being added to the list of the coronavirus affected countries every day and Bangladesh having global connectivity with the countries always remained at high risk.

‘Since the coronavirus emerged in China, with which Bangladesh has close relation, we started taking preventive measures,’ Meerjady said.

‘Many Bangladeshis live in Italy, South Korea, Singapore and Japan, which appeared to be new hotspots of coronavirus after China, and we have trade relations with the countries,’ she said.

‘We cannot rule out the possibilities of coronavirus infection in Bangladesh,’ she added.

Coronavirus, which believed to have started spreading from a market in the Wuhan city of China that sells wild animals in late December, has now become a global health concern.

New patients are being identified in Italy, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Singapore and the USA.

About one crore Bangladeshis live in different countries across the world, including these countries, which becomes a cause of concern for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh suspended visa-on-arrival for Italy, South Korea, Iran and China, health minister Zahid Maleque said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Bangladesh also asked to show medical certificates to seek visa from the countries, he said.

The government also urged the Bangladeshi expatriates to avoid travel within the affected countries and requested citizens not to travel to the countries unless there was an emergency, the minister said.

Though the authorities said none so far got infected with coronavirus in Bangladesh, seven Bangladeshi expatriates were so far infected with the novel virus in Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Italy. The Bangladeshi in Italian city of Milan was identified with the virus on Wednesday, IEDCR said.

‘We are always at high risk of coronavirus spread, but still we do not find anyone infected with the coronavirus in Bangladesh,’ IEDCR director Meerjady said.

‘Our challenge remains for prevention and controlling of the spread of the highly contagious virus because we are a populous country,’ she said.

Bangladesh started screening passengers at the ports of entry since January after the coronavirus started spreading in China.

Bangladesh took different measures including setting up isolation units at all the government and private hospitals.

The government of USA on Tuesday announced a commitment of $37 million in financing from the Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious Diseases at the US Agency for International Development for 25 countries affected by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 or at high risk of its spread.

Bangladesh remains in the USA’s list of the 25 countries.

The IEDCR director said on Wednesday that a Bangladeshi expatriate got infected with coronavirus in the Italian city of Milan. 

The patient was being treated at home as his condition was not serious, she said.

‘It is sad news for us today that a Bangladeshi has been infected with coronavirus in Italy,’ she said while speaking at a press conference at her office.

Treatment for the male Bangladeshi national has been ensured at home, but he will be taken to a hospital if needed, she said.

‘His condition is still not serious,’ Meerjady said, citing the Bangladesh mission in Italy.

Earlier, six Bangladeshi expatriates got infected with Covid-19 in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Among them, five were infected in Singapore and three of them were already released from the hospital as they recovered from the ailments.

Among the rest two in Singapore, one was still in critical condition, said the IEDCR director.

The health condition of another Bangladeshi, who got infected with coronavirus in the UAE, was now stable, she said.

The IEDCR on Tuesday said that five suspected coronavirus patients were isolated in a hospital in Dhaka, but the IEDCR director informed on Wednesday that one of them was already released as he was not found infected with the virus.

Two of them were tested and found negative of coronavirus while tests on the rest two were underway, she said.  

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