Emergency evacuation ready for Bangladeshis

Coronavirus infection in Wuhan

Bangladesh, so far free from the coronavirus infection, is fully prepared to bring back its citizens on emergency basis from China’s Wuhan city, the epicenter of the virus.

The emergency preparations took effect after ending of the travel restriction imposed by Beijing.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said the government kept an aircraft ready and opened a registration process for the voluntary return from Wuhan where about 500 students are now living.

“It’ll not be possible to bring back the students before two weeks as the Chinese authorities informed us that they quarantine all inhabitants in Wuhan and won’t allow anyone leave at least in 14 days,” he told reporters.

China imposed travel restrictions in the Wuhan to contain its spread.

In this period, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam urged all students living there, “to comply with directives of the Chinese government without any exception.”

“Doing so may disrupt day to day life, but for their own sake and to prevent spreading the virus, they must comply with China’s health guidelines,” he said in a facebook post.

So far, 106 people were killed by the flu-like virus, which has spread overseas, with Sri Lanka and Germany the latest countries to be hit.  However, none of the deaths has been outside China and all but six have been in the central city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged last month.

The World Health Organisation did not declare it a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ yet. The UN health agency, however, asked countries to be prepared to combat the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister Zahid Maleque confirmed that there is no case of the virus in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, he said, the Ministry has taken all-out measures to address its transmission.

Thermal scanning machines have been set up at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport while hand scanning machines in other ports to check inbound passengers.

The district hospitals have been directed to make arrangements of treatment at hospitals while Kurmitola General Hospital and Infectious Diseases Hospital in Dhaka to take special measures for providing treatment to coronavirus-infected persons.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had earlier instructed ministries concerned to take steps to bring back the willing-to-return Bangladeshis from China.

Following that, the Bangladesh embassy in Beijing opened a website where, according to the foreign minister, so far 245 students have registered to return. “We are keeping continuous contact with them,” said Dr Momen.

Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing has opened a 24-hour hotline to reach out to the expatriate Bangladeshis if they need any emergency support due to the virus outbreak. The hotline number is +86 178-0111-6005.