Around 1,650 returnees from abroad have been under home quarantine in different districts across the country to avoid spreading the deadly coronavirus.
The Business Standard collected the information about self-quarantine from deputy commissioners and civil surgeons.
However, the government has not disclosed an exact figure about how many people are under home quarantine across the country.
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) said the passengers – Bangladeshis and foreigners – coming from countries affected by Covid-19, have been requested to stay under self-quarantine for 14 days.
The IEDCR added that 596,247 people have arrived in Bangladesh from January 21 to February 14.
An estimated number of more than 3,000 people enter the country every day. Considering the trend of arrivals, around 20,000 to 21,000 people should have self-quarantined in the last week, but the number of individuals doing so is much lower.
Additionally, experts have raised questions as to whether the returnees have been maintaining the conditions of home quarantine properly.
Prof Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and virology expert, told The Business Standard, "There is a doubt about the success of self-quarantine efforts and whether the returnees will follow the rules of self-isolation. Their families and others around them may be infected with coronavirus if they do not quarantine themselves properly."
He added that the threat of a fine and a jail term, alone, may not convince the returnees to stay in self-quarantine. "The matter must be monitored on a regular basis."
As some returnees have not maintained the government's instructions on self-quarantine, the Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS) recently issued a circular stating that those not self-quarantining will face legal action.
The circular further said local administration will take legal action if they do not comply with the government's sympathetic measures.
According to the contagious disease law, any person violating the conditions of quarantine must face a fine of Tk50,000 or three months' jail – or both punishments.
Dr Anwarul Amin, civil surgeon of Manikganj, told The Business Standard, "In our district, 221 returnees from abroad are under home quarantine. The health workers have been visiting their homes to inquire about their condition regularly."
IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora has called upon the returnees from abroad to stay in self-quarantine. "You remain at home for the security of 17 crore people of the country."
Chandpur hosting the highest number of people under home quarantine
Md Majedur Rahman Khan, deputy commissioner of Chandpur, told The Business Standard that till Saturday 1,007 returnees from abroad are in self-quarantine in the district.
He said the civil surgeon's office has been regularly monitoring if the returnees are following the rules of home quarantine properly. "Around 3.58 lakh people from our district live abroad. We have information about the people who have returned home in the last 15 days."
No information on home quarantine is being released centrally
IEDCR said it has information about how many people are home quarantining throughout the country, but the institute claims it is not publishing the information to maintain the privacy of citizens.
IEDCR Director Flora said, "We do not want to publish any information about those under self-quarantine because it may create confusion in their respective areas. The people who are under self-quarantine, and their families, could face social humiliation."