Bangladesh has diagnosed its first cases of the novel coronavirus as three persons – including two members of one family – have been infected with the virus.
Two of the infected persons are expatriates who recently returned from Italy. The other is one of their family members, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed to the media on Sunday.
"Two of those infected are male and the other is female," IEDCR Director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora told reporters at a press briefing in Dhaka.
Three more members of the two families are being kept in quarantine on suspicion they have coronavirus.
Dr Flora said that, after returning from Italy, the two persons developed symptoms of coronavirus and contacted the IEDCR on its hotline number.
"Later, we collected samples from them and conducted medical tests where they were found positive for the virus," she said.
At the same time, samples from four other members of the two families were also collected and tested. Among them, one was diagnosed with the virus while the other three were found negative for it, according to the IEDCR director.
The infected persons have been hospitalised in Dhaka but Dr Flora did not disclose the name of the hospital.
When asked why they were not detected with the virus at the Dhaka airport, Sabrina Flora said they exhibited no coronavirus symptoms when they entered the country.
"However, we have prepared a list of the people who were in contact with the infected. We are regularly communicating with them," she said.
'No reason to panic'
The IEDCR director asked all to not panic over the detection of the coronavirus cases in the country.
"There is no reason to worry. We are working in an organised way. We will certainly be able to prevent the virus' spread," she said.
"We are fully prepared. Yet, we will make even better preparations. We have already identified isolated hospitals in Dhaka and will find some outside the capital too," she continued.
Private hospitals have also opened isolation units, Dr Flora said, adding, "If the number of coronavirus patients increases in the country, we will prepare some schools, colleges and community centres as isolated hospitals".
"However, there is no need to shut down educational institutions in the country at the moment as the situation is still under control," she told journalists.
Sabrina Flora added that all need not wear masks for their protection. "Only the patients and those who will attend to them should wear masks."
The IEDCR chief advised all to avoid crowded places to protect themselves against the possible coronavirus infection.
She also called upon the people to follow coughing etiquette.
'Passengers from six countries should be in self-quarantine'
Meanwhile, the passengers coming to Bangladesh from six countries – China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, and Thailand – will have to self-quarantine.
Md Shahriar Sajjad, a health officer at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, told The Business Standard that passengers of all flights from all countries are being screened but this special measure has been taken for travellers from these six countries.
"If any traveller from these countries is found to have symptoms of fever or coronavirus infection, we will immediately send them to the Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital for direct isolation," he said.
Those who have no such symptoms are being given health declaration cards and asked to keep themselves in self-quarantine for the next 14 days.
If any of them develops a symptom of coronavirus within this period, they should communicate with the IEDCR by calling the emergency number, he added.
The coronavirus – believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market that was illegally selling wildlife in Wuhan, China – has spread to different parts of China, as well as to at least 100 countries across the globe.