How air travelers are being harassed after testing Covid positive
"You may go home instead of the hospital, if you pay me some money."
Amilia Khanam, 35, tested positive for Covid-19 just before her scheduled departure to Kolkata from Dhaka airport on 1 April.
The authorities kept her waiting in the airport for four hours to send her to a hospital, as she was not allowed to fly with a Covid positive test result.
And while she was being taken by an ambulance of the health ministry, the driver made an offer to her: "You may go home instead of the hospital, if you pay me some money."
This is how air travelers are being harassed in the airport and victimized by fraud due to mismanagement on part of the authorities concerned.
Sharing his experience, Amilia's husband Fakhrul Islam Harun who was the passenger of the same flight of US-Bangla Airlines said they were supposed to receive the coronavirus test results on 31 March night but did not get them until the next morning. As the flight was scheduled for 10am, they went to the airport and found that Amilia had tested positive, he added.
Seven more passengers of the same flight found themselves coronavirus positive after receiving the test results at the airport, Harun informed The Business Standard.
As his wife was not allowed to travel, Harun also cancelled his flight.
The Covid-19 positive passengers were separated from others since they were to be sent to the hospital as per the health authorities' instructions.
But, the two magistrates who were assigned to give the decision of sending the Covid positive passengers to the hospital were not present at the airport, causing the passengers to wait for them.
As the wait was getting prolonged, the passengers started to ask the airlines authorities about the magistrates but the authorities could not tell them who were the magistrates assigned for duty on the day and when they would come.
Later, Harun contacted high officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) and informed them about the absence of the magistrates. Following his contact, the magistrates sent instructions to the airlines authorities over the phone as to which hospitals the Covid-19 positive passengers would be sent to.
An ambulance was kept at the airport by the health authorities for carrying Covid positive passengers to hospitals. But there began another story of harassment and fraudulence.
The driver of the ambulance was supposed to hand over the passengers to the hospital authorities with a list of infected persons. But, he told the infected passengers that they could avoid going to the hospital by paying him a bribe.
The passengers also were afraid of further suffering by getting admitted to the hospital as there is no seat. Therefore, they opted to go home by paying Tk500-1000 each to the driver.
Even though the other passengers bribed the driver, Amilia did not take the offer and went to a hospital.
There she met a doctor and told him that she did not need to get admitted to the hospital as she had no complications.
Observing her health and seat crisis in the hospital, the doctor suggested her to go home and stay in home quarantine.