Bangladesh Bans Travelers Coming from Dozens of Countries, amid Huge COVID-19 Spike

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
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Bangladesh Bans Travelers Coming from Dozens of Countries, amid Huge COVID-19 Spike People stand by a roadside stall without wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, in Dhaka, April 1, 2021
[Sabrina Yesmin/BenarNews]

Bangladesh on Thursday banned air passengers traveling from all countries in Europe - except Britain - and 12 other countries for two weeks, amid a worrying spike in new COVID-19 infections that reached a record high in the South Asian country.

The civil aviation authority of Bangladesh issued a notice that the temporary ban on travelers arriving from those countries would be effective beginning on Saturday, said Group Capt. A.H. M. Touhid-ul Ahsan, director of Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

“Except the United Kingdom, no passengers from all European countries and 12 other countries will be allowed entry into Bangladesh between April 3 and 18. The reason is the spread of coronavirus in Bangladesh,” Ahsan said.

The 12 other countries are Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Qatar, South Africa, Turkey and Uruguay, Ahsan said.

Bangladesh reported 6,489 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, breaking a daily record set the previous day. With 59 virus-related deaths, COVID-19 fatalities rose to 9,105, government health data showed.

Ahsan said the ban was aimed at stemming the spread of new infections.

However, airline passengers transiting through Bangladesh will have to stay inside the airport terminal, Ahsan said.

For example, “Qatar Airways will be able to come to Bangladesh via Doha with passengers from America. However, no passengers from Qatar can come to Bangladesh,” he said.

COVID-19 infections in Bangladesh, first detected in March 2020, peaked last June and July. Since then, new infections gradually decreased to between 300 and 400 daily in the last week of February.

They began rising again in the first week of March, mainly because people stopped following health and safety protocols, Zahid Maleque, the health minister, told journalists Thursday.

“Actually, we became over confident that coronavirus vanished from Bangladesh. People stopped using masks and abiding by the health safety guidelines after we launched the vaccination in February,” Maleque said

Bangladesh kicked off coronavirus vaccinations on Jan. 27, with the Covishield vaccine developed by Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

The nation had vaccinated a little over 5 million people as of Thursday, which is not nearly enough to achieve herd immunity in a country with a population of 164.7 million.

On March 29, the government banned all social, political and religious gatherings to contain the rising infections.

“We are heading toward a likely disaster. We have to stop the infections right now, otherwise the worst days are waiting for us” said Maleque.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also expressed worry about the infections on the opening day of the new parliamentary session on Thursday. But, assistance from the people is necessary to contain it

“We have to bring the situation under control as we did earlier, immediately after the coronavirus breakout. But, assistance from the people is necessary to contain it,” Hasina said, according to the state-owned BSS news agency.

“I have repeatedly told people to wear masks and follow the health guidelines even after taking the jabs against coronavirus, but people have stopped maintaining health protocols.”


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