Bangladeshi nationals flying home from Wuhan amid coronavirus outbreak

Over 300 Bangladeshi nationals are on their way back home onboard a special flight from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the locked down epicentre of a deadly coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 200 lives in the country.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 1 Feb 2020, 04:43 AM
Updated : 1 Feb 2020, 05:39 AM

The rescue flight of Biman Bangladesh took off at 7.45 am Dhaka time on Saturday from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport.

Earlier on Friday, the authorities began moving the Bangladeshi students by bus to the airport where they underwent tests before boarding the plane.

Biman's DGM for public relations Tahera Khondoker said a total of 316 passengers, including 15 children, are flying back to Dhaka. The flight is also carrying four doctors, four cockpit and 11 cabin crew.

But Dr Reza Sultanuzzaman, a Bangladeshi researcher in China, who was involved in making the list of returnees, said two people did not travel with the rest due to problems with their paperwork. 

The passengers went through temperature and health screening more than once as they waited in the airport, said Dr Reza.

The number of deaths from a coronavirus epidemic in China rose by 46 to 259 on Friday, the country's health authority said, as the United States announced new border curbs on foreign nationals who have been in China.

The province of Hubei, the centre of the epidemic, remains under virtual quarantine, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down, but small numbers of travellers continue to breach the lockdown.

Amid fears that the virus could spread further overseas, the United States announced measures to restrict entry to foreign nationals who have recently been in China. All three major US airlines also said on Friday they would cancel flights to mainland China.

Cities across China continue to implement special measures aimed at curbing the spread of the pathogen. Tianjin, a city in northern China with around 15 million people, said all schools and businesses would be suspended until further notice.

The US-based China Human Rights Defenders urged the Chinese government to ease restrictions on movement and counter discrimination against residents of Wuhan and Hubei, adding that censorship had contributed to the spread of the virus.

Bangladeshis waiting to board a special flight at Tianhe International Airport in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday for evacuation from the epicentre of a deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The World Health Organisation has declared a ‘global health emergency’ over the virus as it spread to 18 countries across the globe.

The Bangladeshi evacuees will be kept under observation for 14 days – the incubation period of the virus - at the Ashkona Hajj Camp near the airport, said Health Minister Zahid Malik. Police and army personnel will be deployed to secure the camp, he said.

He urged the families of the returnees to remain patient and avoid contact with their loved ones during the quarantine.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research or IEDCR is consulting Dr Mushtuq Husain, who has recently retired as its chief scientific officer, to deal with the evacuation and isolation of the Bangladeshis. He visited the Ashkona camp on Saturday morning.

Masked Bangladeshis entering Tianhe International Airport in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday for evacuation from the epicentre of a deadly coronavirus outbreak.

“The camp has been quarantined to keep the returnees under watch. If someone shows the symptoms, he or she will be hospitalised,” he said. The symptoms of coronavirus infection include fever, coughing and difficulty with breathing,” Mushtuq told bdnews24.com.

He advised citizens to regularly wash hands with soap and maintain hygiene to prevent contracting the virus.

Anyone suspecting an infection by the virus can call national emergency helpline 999.

“Such patients should not visit hospitals themselves. We will send people to record the patients’ history, if necessary,” he added.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher