The outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China has impeded the commercial commissioning of the country's largest coal-fired power plant project in Patuakhali.
The Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited, which is implementing the project, does not know when it will be able to start the commissioning.
It earlier planned to go for the commissioning at the beginning of this month.
AM Khurshedul Alam, acting managing director of the company, told The Business Standard that thoughts were now focused on starting the process by the end of February.
"We cannot do the post-test-run maintenance as some workers are stuck in China in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, which has already been declared a worldwide emergency," he said.
The test run of the first phase of the Payra 1,320MW Thermal Power Plant project, delayed by a year, finally started on January 13 this year.
The plant's commercial operation was supposed to begin in the first week of this month after a sorting out of technical issues caused in the national grid, at the power station and in the maintenance section during test runs.
However, the Chinese engineers and workers who went to their homeland on vacation could not come back to Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, workers who came to Bangladesh after the outbreak of the virus were kept in quarantine. The others are unable to enter as the Bangladesh government has imposed a ban on Chinese arrivals.
Twenty-three Chinese workers entering Bangladesh before January 30 were taken to the Kalapara health care centre, with some being kept in a separate house on the site, said sources.
"We got back 17 Chinese workers before February, and three more this week. We asked them to stay in a separate accommodation on the site. Later, another three came and we kept them there as well," said Dr Basudeb Mohadas, director of the health department in Barishal division.
"We asked these 23 workers to be in quarantine for 14 days. We suggested that they not go back to China. About those who are going back, we suggested that they not come back until the problem is resolved," he added.
The project's implementation agency hopes that the situation will be good very soon and the work will gather pace again.
There are more than 6,000 workers in the Payra plant, including around 3,000 Chinese nationals.
The plant's two units are expected to generate 1,320MW power once the project is completed.
The Bangladesh Power Development Board will buy all the electricity generated by the plant.