Bangladesh evacuees head to Wuhan airport as China virus death toll mounts

The authorities have started moving the Bangladeshi students in Wuhan to the airport in the Chinese city for evacuation from the locked down epicentre of a deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Published : 31 Jan 2020, 12:38 PM
Updated : 31 Jan 2020, 02:05 PM

A Biman Bangladesh plane left the Dhaka airport about 5:45pm on Friday to bring them back.

A total of 361 Bangladeshis, including 19 families, 18 children and two infants, registered for the evacuation, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said earlier.

Reza Sultanuzzaman, a Bangladeshi researcher in China who was involved with making the list of the returnees, said the Bangladeshi students of 21 universities in Wuhan were returning home. 

They had already started for Tianhe International Airport by bus, he said in the afternoon local time.

The evacuation flight is scheduled to start for Bangladesh at midnight (10pm Bangladesh time), Sultanuzzaman said.

Bangladeshi students wait to leave the Hubei University of Technology in Wuhan for Tianhe International Airport for evacuation amid a coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Mehedi Hasan

The 419-seater plane is expected to arrive in Dhaka at 2am on Saturday, Tahera Khandaker, a spokesperson for Biman, told

The United States and other countries tightened travel curbs while businesses said they were facing supply problems because of the coronavirus in China on Friday, a day after the World Health Organisation declared a global health emergency.

With the death toll rising to 213, all of them in China, Singapore banned entry to all Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China in some of the most far-reaching moves worldwide to deter the fast-spreading virus.

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. Police and army personnel will be deployed to secure the camp.

A bus carrying Bangladeshi students leave the Hubei University of Technology in Wuhan for Tianhe International Airport for evacuation amid a coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Mehedi Hasan

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

“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 advised all to regularly wash hands with soap and maintain hygiene to prevent contacting the virus.

Anyone suspecting to be infected 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.

The plane to China is carrying surgical and N95 masks, gloves, disposable gowns, hand sanitizer, caps and shoe covers, among other things, for the evacuees, crew members and health workers, according to Mushtuq.

[Additional Reporting by China Correspondent Saiyedul Islam, Staff Correspondent Masum Billah and Staff Correspondent Golam Mujtaba Dhruba]