Bangladesh puts ports on alert against new COVID variant, experts push for travel ban

The Directorate General of Health Services has issued warnings to all ports of entry into Bangladesh against the new omicron COVID-19 variant that is causing global concern.

Published : 28 Nov 2021, 09:37 AM
Updated : 28 Nov 2021, 10:16 AM

The DGHS is taking all possible preparations to prevent the spread of this variant, said spokesman Prof Md Nazmul Islam.

The strain, first discovered in South Africa, has been identified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization. This means the highly muted variant could be more contagious and virulent and could reduce preventative measures such as vaccines less effective.

However, scientists have yet to establish whether this is the case.

“Many countries have taken preventative measures,” said Prof Nazmul Islam. “We have sent warning notices to ports of entry and instructed them to take the appropriate steps.”

Meanwhile, the National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19 has recommended a travel ban on all countries that have identified cases of the omicron variant.

The announcement was made following the 48th meeting of the committee on Saturday, said panel chief Dr Md Shahidullah.

The committee has presented the government with a four-point list of demands, which include restrictions on meetings and gatherings.

“The variant has spread to several countries and we believe that Bangladesh should also start preparing for it. Some countries have barred travel from South Africa and a few other countries, and we believe we should do the same.”

“In addition to these bans, we also recommended making a two-week institutional quarantine mandatory. Health regulations have also become quite lax and so we must push for stricter adherence.”

The kinds of mass gatherings taking place across the country, most of which do not follow health regulations, are causing concern about fresh infections, he said.

“It is very unfortunate that mass gatherings have multiplied in this way. We have stressed that we must limit such large public gatherings.”

The US, the European Union and nations across the globe have introduced travel restrictions in response to the emergence of the new variant. Bangladesh has imposed a travel ban on South Africa as well.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher