Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Dhaka suspends flights to stop expats’ travel home: Momen

Published 10:39 pm | March 15, 2020

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Online Desk : Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen today said Dhaka was forced to suspend all flights to and from coronavirus hit countries, especially European nations, as Bangladeshi expatriates are entering the country ignoring the government’s advice.

“So far what we observed, the virus entered our country from outside …. we can’t put our 16 crore people in danger for few of them (expatriates), we have limited resource to tackle if the situation goes worse,” he told newsmen after attending a seminar at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).

“Our core responsibility is to protect our people,” he added.

Earlier, he said, the government appealed to expatriate Bangladeshis living in various countries not to come to Bangladesh until the situation improves. “But they didn’t listen to us… so we were forced to shut down flights from different countries.”

The foreign minister expressed his dissatisfaction over some expatriate Bangladeshis who showed reluctance to be quarantined after arriving here on Saturday.

Last night, Bangladesh decided to impose a ban on travelers from all European countries except the UK and other nations, which have already restricted their borders, till March 31 beginning Sunday midnight after detecting two fresh coronavirus positive cases on Saturday.

The foreign minister said only those who did not visit severely coronavirus hit countries in the last 28 days can travel to Bangladesh from the UK in the next 14 days.

He said as the World Health Organization has declared Europe as the new epicenter of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the government has taken the decision to protect its citizens from the outbreak.

The two-week ban will also be effective for the countries which have already restricted borders, including India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

Besides, he said issuing on-arrival visa to all countries have been also suspended within this period.

Moreover, the foreign minister said the passengers who are coming from coronavirus hit countries must go into self-quarantine.

He said of the five coronavirus infected persons in Bangladesh, three came from Italy and one from Germany. Another one got infected for staying with one of the four infected returnees, he said.

He said decision will be taken over closing educational institutions, if required.

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