Bangladesh is facing high risk to be affected by novel coronavirus outbreak as the virus has already spread in different parts of the globe, said Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Li Jiming.
"The virus has spread in the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh. It has also spread in the Middle East with which region the country has economic relations. As a result, Bangladesh must prepare at this moment to prevent a possible coronavirus outbreak," Ambassador Li Jiming made the remark at an event held in Keraniganj, organised by China Railway Group Limited (CREC), the contractor of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project.
"Coronavirus spread to the whole world but the Bangladesh authorities are only screening Chinese nationals before entering the country," he added.
Terming the process "unscientific", the ambassador urged the authorities to screen everyone entering the country and discouraged the government against holding large gatherings.
He also said that the screening facility in the country is inefficient.
The Chinese Ambassador requested the Bangladeshi government to increase the visa period of the Chinese citizens currently living in Bangladesh as Beijing has already taken the same measure for Bangladeshi citizens in China.
The CREC has declared the safety measures taken to ensure zero infection of Covid-19 for all the project staff and maintaining the work in progress at the event.
One of the measures states that all the project staff on vacation in the Hubei province of China will enjoy their leave until the central lockdown is cancelled. And those permitted to return to Bangladesh will be quarantined for at least a fortnight.
The health report system of the workers is also being maintained daily to keep track of their health condition.
The offices are being sterilised twice a day to prevent the virus spread and a field hospital has been set up near the Buriganga River.
A detailed plan for tackling any emergency and untoward situation has been prepared.
In order to retain the speed of the work in progress, the holiday of the key staff who are not in Hubei have been shortened, and those in Bangladesh have been instructed not to have any yearly holiday until further notice.
The company said more skilled local staff have been hired to ensure that the Padma Bridge project is completed on time amid the absence of the Chinese staff.
China Major Bridge, the contractor of the Padma Bridge have already brought four robots to accelerate the works.
Golam Faqruddin A Chowdhury, project director for Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, said, "Authority has employed 5500 local staff to accelerate the progress of the project as some of the manpower from china reduced due to corona outbreak."
He said geological survey and alignment design of the project have been completed. The project achieved 11.3 percent financial progress. The priority section of the project, rail line from Mawa to Bhanga, will be completed by next year.
Brigadier General Zakir Ahmed, acting chief coordinator of the project said, "Coronavirus is hampering the progress of the work to some extent. As the major components of the projects are being constructed in China."
Md Kamaruzzaman, deputy project director of Padma Bridge project said, "The work of Padma Bridge project has been slowed down due to coronavirus outbreak. Two spans of the bridge is still in China. No initiative to bring these spans to Bangladesh can be taken within the next two months."