361 Bangladeshis returning from Wuhan tonight
They will be quarantined for 14 days at the Hajj camp in Ashkona, during which period no family members will be allowed to meet the returnees
The government is bringing back 361 Bangladeshi citizens from Wuhan province of China tonight.
After they land, they will be quarantined for 14 days at the Hajj camp in Ashkona, opposite to the airport.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport earlier today, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said no one would be able to meet the returnees during the quarantine period.
"About 5,000 people in China have been infected with coronavirus. Of them, more than 170 people have died," he said.
"The virus has spread to 17 countries so far but it has not affected Bangladesh. One passenger returning from China has been admitted to Kurmitola General Hospital on suspicion of carrying the disease. We will get to know if he is actually infected or not after the tests."
Under the orders of the prime minister, the government has arranged to bring back the 361 people who applied to return to Bangladesh from Wuhan, the minister further said.
"As far as we know, none of those returning here are infected with coronavirus. They will be kept in the Hajj camp where they will be monitored for 14 days. No one is allowed to visit them during this time. We will send regular updates to their family members."
The minister added that the plane leaving for Wuhan at 5pm on Friday would have five doctors on board, who will be in protective suits. The aircraft will have all the amenities of an ambulance.
The 361 citizens will also be wearing protective suits. The quarantine wards have been prepared at the Combined Military Hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital and Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital in case anyone falls ill while in quarantine.
Police and the army will be deployed to provide security.
Requesting relatives not to visit within the 14 days of observation, Zahid Maleque said, "It is normal for relatives to want to see the family members when they return but I would request everyone not to meet them."
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, who was present at the press conference, made similar remarks to relatives and requested relatives not to be anxious meet the returnees.
"As soon as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina heard about the virus, she asked to bring the Bangladeshis back. Earlier, the Chinese government told us they could not let the Bangladeshis return in 14 days.
"Finally, yesterday evening, they said our citizens could return. Of the 361 people, there are 19 families, 18 children and two children under the age of two. We got everything ready within a very short time. From this we can understand that Bangladesh has the capability to deal with any situation."
Responding to a question from reporters, the minister informed Bangladesh does not have any direct flights to Wuhan.
"Although this flight will go directly there, we have not made any decision to cease flights to China. However, we are discouraging people from going there. We are also doing regular checkups at the airport when people arrive."
He added that about 5,500 of Bangladeshis study in China, and at 22 institutes in Wuhan.
"Not everyone there wanted to return. We have arranged to bring only those who are wishing to come back home," Momen added.