At least nine Covid-19 patients have come to Bangladesh over the past month from different Middle East countries by hiding their medical certificates on board.
When their Covid-19 certificates were sought at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, they claimed they did not have any.
However, after they were told that they would only be allowed home if they could show a certificate or be sent to 14-day institutional quarantine, they took their certificates out and admitted they were infected.
Airport authorities said the sick passengers came from Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.
"The coronavirus certificate was not made mandatory for passengers coming to Bangladesh and people took advantage of that," Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul-Ahsan, director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, told The Daily Star yesterday.
On September 14, he held an emergency meeting with airlines representatives in this regard.
The Bangladesh civil aviation authority has already informed the concerned airlines that they were carrying Covid-19 patients.
"We asked them for a strict monitoring system to ensure that Covid-19 positive patients cannot travel," Tauhid said.
Out of nine patients, five flew on Saudia, two on Qatar Airways, one on Bangaldesh Biman and one on SalamAir.
Two of them landed in Dhaka on August 24th and 26th, the others reached on September 4th, 6th, 7th, 14th and 17th.
The civil aviation authority said all the patients were sent and admitted to Kurmitola General Hospital after their arrival in Dhaka.
Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh, told The Daily Star that the concerned airlines were warned and explanations were sought from them.
"If the response is not satisfactory, we will inform the concerned civil aviation authority that the airlines violated health rules and will request them to take steps," he said.
International flights were suspended for long due to the pandemic and resumed on a limited scale on June 16th.
The civil aviation authority also issued a circular of health guidelines before the resumption of flights.
Expatriates from different countries started rushing back to the country once the coronavirus began to spread in China in late December.
Bangladesh took a positive initiative when it put 312 of its nationals, who were brought back from China's Wuhan province, on a 14-day quarantine in Dhaka's Ashkona camp on February 1.
But afterwards, the returnees were allowed to go into home quarantine, risking the spread of infection across Bangladesh.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Bangladesh has jumped up to 25th on Monday, surpassing China, in the list of countries with the highest Covid-19 related casualties.
With the new cases, the total number of confirmed cases rose to 3,44,264 -- the 15th highest in the world, according to the reference website worldometers.info.