Three hundred and sixty-one Bangladeshis would be brought back on a special flight from coronavirus epicentre Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in China, by early hours today, the officials said.
A flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines with special quarantine, three physicians, a nurse and required medical equipment on board took off for Wuhan from Dhaka at about 6:00pm on Friday. The Bangladeshis would be examined at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, and they would return Dhaka after 2:00am, said the officials at Biman.
Of the 361 Bangladeshis, 47 are female and 19 other were children, said the health service division secretary Asadul Islam. They are 18 families among them.
Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said the physicians would conduct screening each of the Bangladeshis before boarding the plane. Anyone detected with the coronavirus infection would be kept isolated, she said.
She said that all the Bangladeshis would be taken directly to special quarantine set up at the Hajj camp at Ashkona in Dhaka for two weeks.
She said the decision of bringing back the Bangladeshis was taken suddenly and they were now taking preparing as accordingly. Meerjady Sabrina also said that immigration of the 361 Bangladeshis would be done under special arrangement.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, health and family welfare minister Zahid Maleque and state minister for disaster management and relief Md Enamur Rahman along with senior health ministry officials held a meeting at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday morning,
About the meeting, Enamur Rahman told New Age that they would provide World Health Organisation-prescribed quarantine facilities the 361 Bangladeshi at the Hajj camp.
He said that they also decided not to allow any family members of the Bangladeshis returned from Wuhan to visit them in two weeks. The quarantined Bangladeshi would be given five meals daily and special meals will be served for children as desired by their guardians, said the state minister.
Health and family welfare minister Zahid Maleque said, ‘If anyone falls sick during the quarantine period, they would be sent to isolation wards at Combined Military Hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital, and Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital. Police and military personnel would be deployed for their security.’
He also said that about 5,000 Bangladeshi students study in China and Bangladeshi students are studying in 22 institutions in Wuhan. ‘We are bringing back those students who wanted to come back in Bangladesh,’ the minister said.
The minister said there was no influence of coronavirus in Bangladesh and a person with suspected infection was being treated at the Kurmitola General Hospital. After necessary examinations it would be cleared whether the person is infected or not, said the minister.
About 400-500 passengers arrive Bangladesh from China every day.
As of Friday, the IEDCR said that they so far screened 4,260 passengers who came to Bangladesh from China in recent days after the coronavirus spread in the country.
World Health Organisation Western Pacific on their official twitter said that the total number of confirmed cases of the 2019 novel #coronavirus reported from mainland China to date was 9,692. This includes 1,527 severe cases and 213 people who have died.
The health ministry had already started preparations for treating returnees infected with coronavirus at restricted health facilities in the capital as well as at the district-level general hospitals, officials said.
The IEDCR requested people to call its hotlines or nearby hospitals if symptoms of coronavirus—pneumonia, cold, sneezing, coughing and fever—have been found in any patients returning from abroad.
The IEDCR hotlines are: 01937000011, 01937110011, 01927711784, and 01927711785.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs