A total of 269 US citizens left here today by a special chartered flight as the US government arranged the aircraft for those who opted to go back home on their personal choice amid the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
A Qatar Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft left Hazrat Shahlal International Airport (HSIA) with the US citizens at 6:05 pm, HSIA Director Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan told media.
The flight carrying the US citizens, including some expatriate Bangladeshis residing in the USA permanently, will arrive at Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC via Doha Qatar, while the passengers will remain on the airplane in Doha.
On Sunday, at a virtual briefing, the US embassy officials disclosed that the US state department and the US embassy in Dhaka have arranged a special chartered flight to Washington DC for US citizens who have been stranded here due to the global outbreak of coronavirus and would like to go back.
"The US government is not forcing anyone to return to the US, this is a personal choice based on what they (the returnees) know of the situation and also what they are comfortable with," a spokesperson of the Embassy told newsmen.
The US embassy official said this kind of arrangement is not only taking place in Bangladesh as so far, the US State Department arranged special flights from 28 countries around the globe to bring back nearly 10,000 US citizens to the USA.
This is temporary measures and they will be returning to Bangladesh again once the situation improves globally, he added.
"The US embassy here remains open for business or normal work hours," said another official of the embassy at the briefing, adding that US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller is staying in Dhaka and leading the embassy team here.
The spokesperson said all the routine work of the US embassy here are under operation except the regular visa service that was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With 136,880 total cases, the US has the highest number in the world, ahead of Italy, China and Spain while the world super power so far witnessed 1,891 COPVID-19 deaths.