Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming has recommended that the 172 Bangladeshi students in China's Hubei Province not be brought back home as that would risk spreading coronavirus in Bangladesh.
"We should try our best to stop such possibilities and minimise the risk. Personally, I don't suggest, I don't recommend [bringing the 172 Bangladeshi students back]. That's my advice," he said at the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) Talk at National Press Club yesterday.
He cited examples of how people got infected outside China and would not advise repatriation of the Bangladeshi students now as apart from the risk to Bangladesh, they would also endanger themselves during travel.
On February 1, Bangladesh repatriated 312 Bangladeshis from Wuhan, the epicenter of coronavirus in China, by a Bangladesh Biman flight. They were quarantined for 14 days and released on Sunday.
India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and the UK have imposed restrictions on pilots and crew members of the flights that brought the 312 Bangladeshi students from Wuhan.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said the government was exploring options to bring back Bangladeshis from Hubei province but noted that it depended on China's permission.
Bangladesh has asked China to pave the way for the Bangladeshis to return.
Asked about it, Jiming said permission of the Chinese government is not a problem, but there are some technical difficulties.
Bangladesh Biman refused to transport the students back to Bangladesh from Hubei because they would then have to stop operations in certain countries that have imposed restrictions on the crews who brought the students back from Wuhan.
"We are also trying to offer some other alternatives – commercial flights and so on. We are working on it. We are in touch with Bangladesh embassy in Beijing," Jiming said.
He appreciated Bangladesh for being responsible for its citizens and the way 312 Bangladeshi students were quarantined for 14 days in Dhaka.
Jiming suggested that the Bangladeshis coming from China now should also be quarantined as Chinese people who are coming from China to Bangladesh are isolated for 14 days.
"Put them in quarantine for 14 days. Each day 30 to 50 Bangladeshi people are coming from China to Bangladesh. Though they are checked at the airports, there is a risk that they carry the virus. So, they should be quarantined," he said.
He also suggested that Bangladesh enhances its ability to diagnose the virus.
New Virus Scanners from South Korea to be piloted in Bangladesh Airports
Cabinet secretary Khandakar Anowarul Islam yesterday said all the [three international] airports will be equipped with newly modified "virus scanners" as part of a test run by a South Korean company.
"It is further modified [compared to thermal scanner]. Any virus [in the passengers' body] could be detected. This machine will be installed in line with the existing [thermal] scanners," the secretary said in a briefing yesterday.
"A [South] Korean company has invented this technology; it is more secure. They are providing it to us as a test case. It would be very good if it is a success," he added.