Passengers arriving from the United Kingdom (UK) will have to stay in a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine to contain the spread of the new strain of Covid-19, Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam said on Monday.
The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting on Monday chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, where Dhaka-London flights were discussed.
Anwarul Islam told reporters after the meeting that flights with London will continue. However, anyone arriving from London will have to stay in the institutional home quarantine for 14 days.
The government will make arrangements for quarantine at Askona Hajj Camp and Uttara Diabari, he added.
"The passengers will have to bear all expenses," he said adding that good quality hotels will be arranged by the Civil Aviation Authority as per passengers' demand.
Responding to a query from the reporters, the Cabinet Secretary said quarantine will be mandatory even with a day-old negative report.
He said an additional notification will be issued with regards to the enforcement rule in two to three days.
Meanwhile, another flight carrying 167 passengers from the UK landed on Monday at the Osmani International Airport in Sylhet, amidst panic over the new variant of Covid-19 in the UK. Of the 167, 144 were dropped at Sylhet, while the rest boarded a connecting flight to Dhaka.
Dr Sirajum, a health official of Sylhet Sadar Upazilla and coordinator of Osmani Airport's medical team said that all the passengers that landed today (Monday) had negative Covid-19 certificates.
"No passengers showed symptoms during the health-check at the airport. Therefore, they were allowed to go, with instructions to remain in home-quarantine for 14 days," he said.
Sirajum added that the airport's medical team hasn't received any notifications from the government with regards to the institutional quarantine.
A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight, carrying 202 passengers from the UK landed at Osmani International Airport on 24 December. All passengers carried coronavirus negative certificates.
According to airport sources, Bangladesh Biman lands twice a week at Osmani Airport from London Heathrow, with one flight going on to London from Sylhet every Wednesday.
So far this month, 1,224 passengers have arrived from the UK on seven flights.
The new strain of the novel coronavirus - VUI–202012/01 – originated in the UK sometime in September and accounted for nearly 60% of all cases in London by mid-December. It is thought to be 70% more transmissible than the earlier versions of the coronavirus.
Scientists are still researching the effects, virulence, and severity of the new strain.