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Untraced returnees pose grave threat

Police fail to trace them for incorrect addresses

Published : 24 Mar 2020 08:52 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 06:54 PM

The administration is facing serious trouble in searching for overseas returnees amid the spread of coronavirus in Bangladesh that has so far infected at least 39 people and claimed four lives in the country. Police said they are failing to trace many of the returnees as they are finding their addresses incorrect during the search for them.

Health experts said the untraced returnees have posed a serious rise of outbreak of coronavirus or COVID-19 in the country. Data on the returnees suggest most of them have ignored the instruction to remain in home quarantine creating chance for an outbreak of the deadly disease.

Police are, however, giving updated lists of overseas returnees to the home ministry and various other agencies from time to time to ensure home quarantine. Several government officials told Bangladesh Post on Monday that it has become a big challenge to ensure home quarantine of the overseas returnees immediately.

Local administration is conducting operations across the country to trace the returnees and force them to remain in home quarantine. Those who are being traced are, in some cases, fined and even given short jail terms through mobile courts. Despite the strict measures, most of the overseas returnees are still out of home posing severe health threats.

Considering serious consequences, government high-ups, in principle, have decided to deploy police, health officials, intelligence agencies to force the returnees to be in home quarantine. According to a confidential document, a total of 298,333 people returned home between March 1 and March 22 this year through the airports.

Another large number of people returned through land ports, which is still unaccounted for officially.  A major portion of the returnees were from those countries where coronavirus has taken a serious turn. According to the official documents, a total of 33,020 overseas returnees are staying in capital Dhaka, which is the largest in number .

The second largest number 20,0184 overseas returnees arrived in Chattogram district. Additional Inspector General of Police, Mir Shahidul Islam, who is the chief of the Special Branch ( SB) said, “ They are sending the addresses of the overseas returnees as mentioned in their passports.”

But local police could not find them at these addresses, he added. Police are trying to trace them, he said adding that police are motivating them to remain in home quarantine if they can be traced. Responding to a question, he said, “The Special Branch of Police is providing the lists of the returnees from March 13 to various government agencies.”

The initiatives were being taken to ensure home quarantine of all overseas returnees, he stated. Responding to another query, the boss of the Special Branch said, “ We have opened a special cell to enhance monitoring of the overseas returnees.” Immigration documents reveal that most of the overseas returnees arrived in eleven districts including Dhaka. Special measures are being taken centering these eleven districts, intelligence sources said.

949 overseas returnees arrived in Rajshahi city, 2,413 in Khulna city, 113 in Barishal city, and 870 in Sylhet city.
14,389 overseas returnees are in Dhaka district , 20,184 in Chattogram district, 2,777 in Rajshahi district, 7,326 in Khulna, 5,960 in Narayanganj, 2,563 in Cox’s Bazar, 2,276 in Chapainawabganj, 3,786 in Bagerhat district , 6,577 in Munshiganj district, 219 in Bandarban , 2,204 in Naogaon, 10,260 in Satkhira, 2,719 in Manikganj, 300 in Rangamati, 1,507 in Natore, 16,450 in Jashore, 4,941 in Gazipur, 318 in Khagrachari, 3,347 in Pabna, 2,525 in Magura, 4,619 in Narsingdi, 6,944 in Noakhali, 1,944 in Sirajganj, 2,605 in Narail, 4,741 in Faridpur, 4,895 in Feni, 3,129 in Bogra, 4,021 in Jhenaidah, 1,968 in Rajbari, 3,559 in Lakshmipur, 891 in Joypurhat, 3,109 in Kustia, 16,407 in Cumilla, 3,219 in Shariatpur, 1,573 in Rangpur, 2,099 in Chuadanga, 3,599 in Madaripur, 5,920 in Chandpur, 1,026 in Gaibandha, 1,325 in Meherpur, 4,339 in Gopalganj, 12,085 in Brahmanbaria, 621 in Kurigram, 3,040 in Kishoreganj, 764 in Lalmonirhat, 4,266 in Barishal, 5,785 in Tangail, 7,349 in Sylhet, 1,259 in Nilphamari, 2033 in Pirojpur, 3,627 in Mymensingh, 4,018 in Moulvibazar, 3,088 in Dinajpur, 1,119 in Jhalakathi, 2,862 in Habiganj, 1,386 in Thakurgaon, 1,024 in Netrokona, 937 in Borguna, 540 in Sherpur, 2,480 in Sunamganj, 1,085 in Panchagarh, 1,334 in Patuakhali, 1,587 in Bhola and 1,338 in Jamalpur.

Immigration sources said most of the passports holders had used village addresses in the passports. They also gave present addresses. But they could not be traced at both permanent and present addresses. This is why local administration is facing trouble tracing these overseas returnees, which may bring immediate outbreak of coronavirus.