A fear of possible coronavirus (Covid-19) infection has spread among Bangladeshi migrant workers in the Middle East as the deadly virus has hit a number of countries there.
They are also concerned over a likely imposition of restriction on their outdoor movement and activities by those countries, which may cause them to lose income.
About 50 lakh Bangladeshis are currently working in the Middle Eastern countries.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Iran, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman and Lebanon have so far reported coronavirus cases.
Last week, one Bangladeshi worker was hospitalised with coronavirus in the UAE, according to the health ministry of that country.
Md Nahid Hassan Alim, an electrical contractor in UAE capital Abu Dhabi, said over telephone that companies of the city are worried over the spread of the virus.
"They [companies] have asked the workers to keep themselves clean and become cautious against coronavirus. We are in a tensed situation because a good number of workers may face difficulties if the virus spreads across the country," he said.
However on January 29, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention asked their people to not panic over the situation.
Meanwhile, Kuwait has recorded 45 cases of coronavirus infection so far.
Md Shoaib, a worker from Noakhali's Begamganj area now living in Kuwait city, expressed his concerns that he might not be able to continue his duty as a driver as the number of coronavirus cases is rising there.
He said public gatherings are restricted in Kuwait and they have to wear masks. "Carrefour, the market where thousands of people throng regularly, has become a market of around 100 people only."
"My family is worried about me and they are frequently contacting me," Shoaib said.
Ripon Mia of Gouripur in Mymensingh works in Salalah of Oman.
He said coronavirus has spread there from an Iran returnee. "Although we live 1,200 kilometres away from the corona-infected area, we are concerned as it may further spread out."
Mohammad Rashed, working in Al Khor – a coastal city of northern Qatar, said his company, Shaqab Catering Services, arranged a workshop for workers to make them aware of the coronavirus.
"Experts in the workshop told us to be cautious especially about our outdoor movements and activities. Cleanliness and masks are a must for every worker," he said.
Saudi Arabia has not recorded any coronavirus cases so far, but the kingdom has temporarily halted the entry of pilgrims to visit holy sites there.
Around 15 lakh Bangladeshis work in Saudi Arabia.
Bangladeshi embassies and labour councillors are aware about the present state in the Middle East, said Monir Hossain Chowdhury, deputy secretary to the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment.
"Our affected workers in Singapore got proper treatment. I believe the workers in the Middle East will also get good care," he said.
He however said Bangladesh's remittance earnings may be hampered if workers could not work properly there.
Shahadat Hossain, senior vice president of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies, said, "The global labour market is not in a good state now. We think our remittance will be affected badly."
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi workers in Singapore are also passing their time amid fears, while many of them have already returned to Bangladesh to avoid coronavirus infection.
According to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, five Bangladeshis were diagnosed with coronavirus in Singapore. Three of them remain hospitalised, while the other two have been released.