Musa Mia, who hails from Feni and is an expatriate in Saudi Arabia, is in a big trouble as his return journey has become uncertain. The fact that his visa is going to expire on March 13 has aggravated the situation.
He was supposed to fly out of the country on March 8 but could not as Qatar Airways had cancelled all flights from six countries, including Bangladesh.
On Wednesday, he went to the Saudi Arabian Airlines office at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka Hotel to book a new flight.
"I will not be able to go to Saudi Arabia within the next five years if my visa expires this time," Musa told The Business Standard.
"It will be the worst adversity of my life if I fail to enter Saudi Arabia before my visa expires," he said.
But luck did not favour him as Saudi Arabian Airlines had cut the number of flights in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. The remaining flights before the expiry of his visa were fully booked.
Not only Musa but hundreds of other Saudi Arabia-bound passengers gathered on the hotel premises with similar problems.
Those heading to other Middle Eastern countries also faced such problems as Kuwait and Qatar had issued a travel ban on passengers from Bangladesh.
Hafizullah, a resident of Cumilla's Manoharganj upazila who lives in Saudi Arabia, said he was staying in Dhaka for the last two days and planned to fly back as early as possible.
But all Saudi Arabian Airlines flights from Bangladesh are booked until March 28, he said.
There were passengers who came to the Saudi Arabian Airlines office to reschedule flights so that they could fly to Saudi Arabia before the situation in Bangladesh deteriorates.
They said they were scared about the situation and had heard from others that medical certificates would have to be provided before boarding flights.
Some passengers went to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research on Wednesday to get medical certificates which would state that they were not infected with coronavirus.
The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), however, said in a statement that no medical certificate was needed to fly to Saudi Arabia.
"There has been a misunderstanding over a circular issued by the Saudi Arabian civil aviation authorities. We would like to make it clear that the circular does not say coronavirus certificate is needed for incoming and outgoing passengers," the statement read.
Baira said around one lakh Bangladeshi workers are scheduled to fly to different Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, by March.
"We do not know what will happen to this large number of people," said Kafil Uddin Majumder, proprietor of Freedom Overseas and also a Baira leader.
Some passengers claimed they were not getting refunds from the airlines.
However, travel agencies denied the claim and said passengers who had missed their flights had received refunds.
"We are refunding half the ticket price and are also re-scheduling flights as per demand," said Kawser Reza, chairman of GoFly, a travel agency that books Qatar Airways tickets.
Meanwhile, After Kuwait and Qatar, the civil aviation authorities of the Maldives have announced not to allow passengers and crew from Bangladesh to enter their country or to transit via their airports.
In a circular on Monday, the Maldivian authorities said the ban on travellers from Bangladesh would remain effective from March 10 to 24.
In the wake of travel bans on passengers from Bangladesh, Biman Bangladesh Airlines has suspended 74 flights out of 142 on 10 routes, including the Middle Eastern countries, India, Malaysia and Singapore. The flights were scheduled for March.
The destinations include Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuwait, Doha, Jeddah, and Medina.
The flights were cancelled due to passenger crisis and restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to Biman officials.