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6 hours ago, Legionair said:

How is the situation in Bangladesh now ?

Not too shabby, not too good either.


So far a total of 5 confirmed cases, 4 brought in from Italy/Germany, 1 spread to their family members. 2 of them have recovered and sent back to home as well.

But the situation at the post-return quarantine of expatriate is not too good. There is a some turmoil and claims about mismanagement at the quarantine camps as the returnees want to leave the quarantine and go to their homes, using the Italy issued Medical Certificates as their base, About 150 more people returned from Italy today in a flight. All travel relations with Europe (except Britain) and India has been cut off.


There will be an emergency meeting and press release at official levels in 5/6 hours updating more on the situation and some special instructions.

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8 hours ago, Legionair said:

How is the situation in Bangladesh now ?

12:00 AM, March 15, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:22 AM, March 15, 2020

Shambolic: 142 Italy returnees allowed to go home after day-long mismanagement

59 more taken to Ashkona camp

Rashidul Hasan


Italy returnees stage protest inside the Ashkona Hajj Camp yesterday after they had been quarantined upon their return yesterday. After day-long drama, they were sent on self quarantine. Photo: collected

After daylong drama about quarantining people returning from Italy, the authorities last night allowed 142 of them to go home and asked them to be in self isolation.

Health experts said this would put entire communities at risk as they feared there would hardly be any monitoring over their self isolation.

However, 59 other Italy-returnees who arrived at Dhaka airport in the evening were sent to a makeshift quarantine centre in Gazipur's Pubail.

Most of the 142 Bangladeshis had began arguing with officials as soon as they were taken to Ashkona Hajj Camp from the airport around 9:00am. They kept demanding that they be allowed to go home immediately.

At least five of the returnees told The Daily Star they left Italy after many people in their neighbourhoods in Rome and Catania were tested positive for the virus and fell sick.

On the way home, two of them told The Daily Star that the authorities didn't take any blood samples from them to test for coronavirus. Experts said it would have been wise if the Italy-returnees had been let go after proper tests.

The returnees left for their home only hours after Health Minister Zahid Maleque said people coming to Bangladesh from affected countries will face a compulsory 14-day period in quarantine. He also warned that anyone violating the directive would be jailed or fined.

Yesterday's daylong tension between the returnees and the officials at Ashkona highlighted the mismanagement and lack of basic protective measures taken by the authorities, especially since Italy is the worst affected country in Europe, the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

At Ashkona in the capital's Uttara, friends and family members started coming in contact with the returnees since morning.

Hardly anyone was wearing a mask, let alone other protective gear. Even the law enforcers wearing no masks jostled the crowd which was chanting slogans denouncing the authorities.

The returnees were allowed to go home because they showed no symptom of a coronavirus infection, DG of Directorate General of Health Services Prof Abul Kalam Azad told reporters at the scene. 

Contacted, Prof Muzaherul Huq, former adviser to WHO's southeast Asia region, said, "Who will make sure they would remain properly quarantined at home on their own? Even though they seem to be in good health, the signs of an infection may appear later. They may pose a threat to entire communities."

He added that it was highly likely that no one would be there to make sure the people were properly "self-quarantined".

Muzaherul also said a person in self-quarantine must stay inside a room with an attached bathroom. Anyone delivering food to the person must not go closer than six feet to the person.

At the hajj camp yesterday, which was supposed to be the quarantine centre for the 142, many expats said some had managed to flee while the law enforcers and officials were struggling to quell the protesting men.

Jahirul, a doctor at the health desk of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, said "These passengers do not seem to have coronavirus symptoms for now, but the virus could be in incubation in their body. In that case, the symptoms may appear a week and others may get infected."

At the hajj camp yesterday, this correspondent saw at least 30 to 40 passengers chanting slogans while others shook hands with their friends and family members at the gate.

Asked why they wanted to go home immediately ignoring the risks, a man said, "We have been here for five hours. But no doctor or official came to test or examine us."

A woman said, "I have three children aged between six and 11 with me. They have not eaten in 24 hours."

At one stage of the demonstrations, some 40 to 45 people started pushing the gate of the hajj camp and police had to jostle with them.

New infections in Italy soared Friday by more than 2,500 and virus-related deaths made their biggest single-day jump there, increasing by 250.

In the three weeks since the country identified its first virus cluster, Italy has reached a total of 17,600 confirmed cases -- the largest outbreak after China -- with 1,266 deaths.

The Italian government has ordered an unprecedented lockdown, ordering businesses to close and restricting people's movement.

On Friday, the World Health Organization warned that Europe has now become the epicentre for the pandemic, reporting more daily cases than China did at the height of its outbreak.



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12:00 AM, March 15, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:17 AM, March 15, 2020

They roam around in quarantine!

Zahangir Shah

Although the government is repeatedly requesting people returning home from abroad to be in home quarantine for 14 days to prevent spread of novel coronavirus, many of them are seen walking freely in their localities.

Three days ago, a youth returned home from Saudi Arabia to a village in Manikganj Sadar Upazila. He was instructed by the local administration to stay at home under quarantine.

Visiting the village on Friday, this correspondent found him roving about near his home.

"I don't have any symptoms of coronavirus infection. That's why I go out of home," he told The Daily Star.

Another youth of the same village returned home from the Gulf country seven days ago. He was found feeding cattle and working with his family members.

Their family members said Dr Lutfor Rahman, upazila health and family planning officer, visited their homes and asked the two youths to stay at home quarantine for two weeks.

The two expatriates are at home on vacation.

On March 2, the health ministry formed committees at the district and upazila levels to check spread of the novel coronavirus.

Manikganj Civil Surgeon Dr Anwarul Amin, also a member of such a committee, said he was not aware of the two youths roving about in their village.

"Everybody should come forward as patriotic citizens to check the spread of the virus. The health department alone will not be able to do the job properly," he told The Daily Star.

He urged the expatriates, who returned home recently, to follow the directives of the health department and not to cause panic.

The civil surgeon said 221 expatriates were asked to stay in home quarantine in Manikganj in the last five days.

According to government statistics, over 1,200 expatriates have so far been asked to be in home quarantine, but many of them are reportedly not following the directive.

As many as 81 expatriates were in self quarantine in Mymensingh and three in Brahmanbaria, reports our local correspondents.

The deadly novel coronavirus has already claimed about 5,400 lives across the world.

A day after the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 a global pandemic, the Directorate General of Health Services yesterday published a circular warning the expatriates of legal action for failure to stay in home quarantine.

In case of any violation of law, the person would be jailed for the maximum two months or fined up to Tk 25,000, or punished with both a jail term and a fine.

Meanwhile, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, yesterday said they gave directives to the civil surgeons to take help from the local administrations to force the expatriates to stay in home quarantine properly.

She was speaking at a press briefing at the IEDCR in the capital's Mohakhali.(The Daily Star holds the names of the expatriates and their exact locations for their safety).



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12:00 AM, March 19, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:48 AM, March 19, 2020

Govt now scrambles for testing kits, PPE

Experts slam ‘failure to act timely’

Mohammad Al-Masum Molla

As the coronavirus outbreak threatens to turn into a grave crisis, the government moves to procure testing kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), both very critical in the fight against the virus. 

Experts said the government had around three months to prepare, but it failed to grasp the gravity of the situation and act accordingly.

Now when it is trying to procure testing kits and PPE, things have become very difficult.

There has been a huge global demand for testing kits in the wake of a raging Covid-19 pandemic. As for PPE, local companies are struggling to manufacture enough for what they say is a shortage of raw materials, which are mostly imported from China.

On February 17, the Centre for Disease Control of the DGHS wrote to the health ministry, seeking one lakh PPEs, five lakh surgical masks and surgical goggles and other equipment. But little has been done to that end.

Health directorate sources say the situation has come to this due to an abysmally slow response of the ministry. Bureaucratic tangles held back many decisions being implemented even at times like these. 

Against this backdrop, the director general of the Directorate General of Health Services has lately held meetings with the country representative of the WHO and officials of some donor organisations. The DGHS wants at least 1 lakh testing kits and 10 lakh pieces of PPE as soon as possible.

At present, the government has around 1,500 kits and around the same number of PPE, which experts say are nowhere near the stocks needed to tackle the situation.

Health officials said a shipment of 10,000 testing kits and the same number of PPE is now in Singapore and expected to arrive in Dhaka in a day or two.

Meanwhile, China yesterday announced it would give Bangladesh 10,000 test kits, 15,000 surgical N95 respirators, 10,000 pieces of medical protective clothing and 1,000 infrared thermometers.

The Chinese embassy in Dhaka through a press release said Beijing will arrange for the air transportation of the medical logistics.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Abul Kalam Azad, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services, said, "How many kits we currently have is not an issue. There will be no crisis of testing kits. Those are on their way."

He said a shipment of 10,000 kits is now in Singapore. "We hope to get it soon. We are also working to collect and purchase one lakh more testing kits."

Azad also said PPE is not mandatory for all health practitioners but for those who will attend to the suspected coronavirus patients. "We are providing doctors with PPE following up on their demands."

Sources at the DGHS say that so far 340 pieces of PPE have been distributed among the medical staff.

Experts say the government should have had enough testing kits by this time and decentralised the access to testing facilities.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) is the only agency in Bangladesh to perform tests to detect highly contagious coronavirus.

Although the organisation is capable of performing 1,000 tests per day, it is performing way fewer than that.

"We are at high risk. Our preparations are insufficient. We got three months but could not utilise that time properly," Muzaherul Huq, former regional adviser of WHO's South East Asia region, told The Daily Star yesterday.

He also said, "The government has responded late in collecting testing kits and PPEs."

Health practitioners have been expressing concern over the inadequacy of the safety measures taken for them.

Mohammad Sohel Rana, resident medical officer of upazila health complex of Kachua in Chandpur, said they have already given a requisition for 100 pieces of PPE but yet to receive those.

"It is risky but we have to provide services to the people in home quarantine," he said adding that some 125 people are in self-quarantine in his upazila.

Debapada Roy, director (health) of Sylhet division, said they are yet to get any PPE after the Covid-19 outbreak. "We are, however, expecting to get those tomorrow [today]."

The WHO has already warned that severe and mounting disruptions to the global supply of PPE – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others.

But shortages of gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for Covid-19 patients.

Supplies can take months to deliver, and market manipulation is widespread, with stocks frequently sold to the highest bidder.

"It seems to me that the government did not find it necessary to take elaborate preparations. If it had, then everything would have been ready by this time," said Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director (disease control) of the DGHS.

He also said test is the only way to know the status of a patient and that's why it should be easily accessible to all.

A number of government and private organisations are capable of administering the test, and so credible organisations should be allowed to test suspected patients for coronavirus, he added.

"We have missed the train already but we do not want to miss the next one."

The first coronavirus positive case was confirmed in Bangladesh on March 8. Till yesterday, there were 14 confirmed cases and one patient died.

A total of 631,538 Bangladeshis returned home from abroad from January 21 till yesterday, but only 351 of them were screened for the virus.

Coronavirus tests in Bangladesh are restricted to only those people who have symptoms of the disease along with the history of travelling from any affected country and to those who came into close contact with the returnees.

This implies that if anyone has travelled to and from an affected country recently and does not have any symptoms, that person will not be tested.

But experts worldwide maintain there is no alternative to testing as many suspected cases as possible to contain the spread.

Of the affected countries, Bahrain has 4,910 people tested per million while the number is 4,099 in South Korea and only 0.09 people per million in Bangladesh.



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Bangladesh bans foreigners’ entry through land ports

The restriction will remain imposed until till further notice

Bangladesh has restricted entry to the foreigners through its all land ports from March 22 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A notice signed by Home Ministry's Senior Assistant Secretary Monira Haque made the disclosure on Saturday.

The ports are- Benapole, Bhomra, Banglabandha, Hili, Burimari, Roumari, Darshana, Nakugaon, Tamabil, Sheola and Akhaura.

The restriction will remain imposed until till further notice.

Earlier on March 14, the government suspended on arrival visas for all countries and banned flights carrying passengers from all European countries, except the United Kingdom, for two weeks in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The country also cut air connectivity with 10 countries on March 21. The countries are- Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore and India.

Bangladesh reported its second death from coronavirus on Saturday and first death on March 18. The number of coronavirus infected patients is now 24 in the country.

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