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5 March, 2020 12:20:26 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 5 March, 2020 06:45:00 PM


Bangladesh at high risk of coronavirus

Says IEDCR as Chinese envoy echoes concern
Staff Reporter, Dhaka
Bangladesh at high risk of coronavirus
A woman wearing a facemask amid fears of spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus walks along a street in Dhaka on Monday. AFP photo

Bangladesh is at high risk of getting affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) warned yesterday. “Coronavirus infection has spread to nearly 80 countries including China.

Moreover, COVID-19-infected patients were found in eight countries in the last 24 hours. So, no country, including Bangladesh, is free from the risk of getting affected,” IEDCR director Prof. Meerjady Sabrina Flora said at a press briefing.

The IEDCR director said that to combat COVID-19, Bangladesh has suspended the provision of visa on arrival for citizens of Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. The citizens of several other countries have also been asked to ensure that they do not carry the virus into Bangladesh, she added. Flora disclosed that a Bangladeshi national has tested positive for the coronavirus in Milan, Italy.

In Bangladesh, 103 people have been tested so far, but none was found to be carrying the virus, she said. “Five local and foreign nationals, who were admitted to isolation units at different hospitals in the country, were declared free of the coronavirus after further tests by IEDCR. Four people have been kept in isolation, but they have also been tested negative for the virus,” she said. The director, however, cautioned, “Though no coronavirus infection has been detected in the country so far, we have to be prepared with all necessary measures to battle the virus.”

Chinese envoy echoes IEDCR’s concern

 Also yesterday, Chinese ambassador Li  Jiming said Bangladesh faces the highest risk of getting affected by the coronavirus outbreak as the virus has already spread to neighbouring countries. “The virus has also spread in the Middle East, the region with which the country has economic relations. As a result, Bangladesh must prepare at this moment to prevent a possible coronavirus outbreak,” Li said at an event in Keraniganj.

The event was organised by China Railway Group Limited (CREC), the contractor of the Padma Bridge Rail Link (PBRL) project. The Chinese ambassador claimed that Bangladesh’s measures to contain coronavirus are not satisfactory. He also requested the Bangladeshi government to increase the visa period for Chinese citizens currently living in Bangladesh as Beijing has already taken the same measure for Bangladeshis living in China.

All precautions taken at Padma project site: Chinese firm

PBRL project director Wang Kun said following the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese company has taken effective and efficient actions to achieve two targets: ensuring zero infection for the project staff and maintaining the progress of work. Wang stated that the project staff on vacation in Hubei province of China would enjoy their leave until the central lockdown is cancelled and those permitted to return to Bangladesh will be quarantined for at least a fortnight.

He said that to ensure prevention and control, the company has implemented a daily reporting system regarding the condition of the staff. Also, adequate numbers of thermometers and medical masks were purchased and distributed to all Chinese and local employees, he added.

“The offices are being sterilised twice daily along with the preparation of a detailed plan for an emergency situation. Owing to these measures, there hasn’t been a single infected case at the project site so far. To ensure control, a field hospital near Buriganga river has been set up as contingency,” he said. Wang said the coronavirus outbreak has affected the execution of two mega projects by CREC “to some extent” because some business entities are not in full operation in China and some project staff in the epidemic centre are not allowed to leave.

“To ensure the continuity of work progress, CREC has been trying its best to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. Now, all non-Hubei key staff have returned to Bangladesh after their holidays were shortened. Those who are currently working in Bangladesh have been instructed not to avail any yearly holiday until further notice. Weekend holidays are being utilised to make up for the loss of time due to coronavirus,” he noted.

Meanwhile, representatives of Chinese contractors proposed that due to the fast spreading of the virus in countries like South Korea and Italy, the Bangladesh government may need to keep a closer watch over people coming from countries other than China.

Kuwait advisory for Bangladesh nationals

In another development, Kuwait’s civil aviation authority said on Tuesday that passengers from 10 nations, including Bangladesh, must produce certificates issued by the Kuwaiti embassies in their respective countries declaring that they are coronavirus-free. The move is aimed at controlling the spread of the disease in Kuwait.




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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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