A special team from Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research on Tuesday arrived in Sylhet to test twenty- nine UK returnee expatriates who tested positive for coronavirus.
A number of Bangladeshis who arrived in Sylhet from UK five days back are now under treatment.
Apart from the high morbidity, the UK has also been in the news throughout the winter for the identification of a new variant of the virus, which came to be known as the UK variant, and is now the most common form of the virus, or dominant strain, in England and Northern Ireland, and has spread to more than 50 other countries.
While it was established quite early on that it is a more infectious form of the virus, transmitting more easily from person to person, this week it was revealed that it may even be deadlier than the original.
British prime minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street briefing: ‘In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant - the variant that was first identified in London and the south east - may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.’
However, there is a concern about whether these expatriates carry the new strain or not. And so the IEDCR team set to Sylhet to collect samples and medical information on them.
Premanondo Mandal, a Sylhet civil surgeon confirmed their arrival and said IEDCR team has arrived Sylhet to examine the corona-positive patients who landed from UK.
Osmani Medical College principal Md Moinul Haque said that it is possible that the UK- returnee Bangladeshis carry the new strains of COVID-19 as they returned from UK. ‘To know for sure we need to do a DNA-sequencing in Bangladesh Science Laboratory,’ he said.
Meanwhile, samples were taken from the corona-positive patients a second time for testing. Sylhet’s genetics engineering and biotechnology department of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology will examine these samples in their lab.
Sylhet metropolitan police’s additional deputy commissioner BM Ashraf Ullah Taher said, 157 expatriate Bangladeshis came to Sylhet on Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight from the UK. They were sent into institutional quarantine under the supervision of the army and police.
They were scheduled to stay in quarantine for four days. Their samples were again tested on Sunday, a day before they were to leave quarantine.
‘Twenty-eight of the samples returned positive results,’ the police officer said.
Of them, 15 were staying at Hotel Nurjahan, five at Britannia, four at Holygate, four at La Rose and another at Holy Side.
‘We’ve admitted them to a 31-bed hospital at Khadimpara and keeping an eye on them,’ the SMP officer said.
Many countries have suspended air travel with the UK after the new strain of the virus was identified there.
But national flag carrier Biman is continuing two weekly flights to the UK.
On Monday, 143 people came from there. They were sent to quarantine after they landed at the Osmani Airport.
It is still unclear whether Biman would suspend operating flights to the UK after the new cases were identified.
Before that, one UK expatriate from Sylhet was tested corona positive on January 18, raising the corona positive number to 29. With this, the number of UK expatriates who came to Sylhet from 4 January to 25 January stood at 544 people.
Among them, 362 expatriates were tested negative for coronavirus and they are now being quarantined at their own cost as per government instructions.
At present, 143 more UK expatriates are being quarantined in various hotels in Sylhet designated by the government.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country