Eight Covid-19-positive Bangladeshis, who had returned from India and then fled from quarantine at Jashore General Hospital, were not infected by the Indian variant of coronavirus, according to the genomic sequencing report prepared by Jashore Science and Technology University's genome centre.
"Samples of eight returnees were processed and sequenced to check for the Bengal strain. Results didn't show the expected strain, rather one of mixed origins -- California, US, and Mexico," said Prof Anwar Hossain, the university's vice-chancellor.
"We will sequence samples of the other 10 India-returnees to check for the strain," said Prof Anwar, a microbiologist and head of the university's coronavirus testing facility.
Meanwhile, Prof Tahmina Shirin, director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said they have also recently received samples of the returnees, who are undergoing treatment at Jashore General Hospital, for testing.
Genomic sequencing of the samples by IEDCR was not done yet, as there are certain requirements to fulfil for conducting the procedure, she said.
She suggested following health guidelines rather than giving importance to the variant.
A total of 18 people with Covid-19 came to Bangladesh from India through Benapole Land Port since April 25, a day before Bangladesh closed its land ports for passengers to stop entry of the deadly virus from neighbouring country India.
Sixteen of them were still undergoing treatment at Jashore General Hospital till yesterday, and they are doing well, said Dr Arif Ahmed, resident medical officer of the hospital.
None of them needs oxygen or had any complication, Dr Arif said.
Two patients were released from the hospital yesterday, as their Covid-19 test results came out negative, he said.
"Bangladeshis are entering Bangladesh with Covid-19 certificates. The 18 were identified by their certificates, which stated that they were Covid-19 positive," he continued.
"Earlier, we sent eight samples to IEDCR for testing. However, we did not get results from them yet, and we have sent 10 other samples on Wednesday," he added.
The hospital sends samples to both the university and IEDCR for testing.
A total of 1,410 Bangladeshis have entered Bangladesh from April 25 till yesterday through Benapole Land Port, and are currently under institutional quarantine at hotels and dormitories of Jashore and adjacent Khulna, Satkhira, Jhenidah and Narail districts, since Jashore alone cannot accommodate so many people, said Jashore Deputy Commissioner (DC) Tamijul Islam Khan.
"We have taken initiatives to stop the Indian variant's entrance into our country," the DC said.
The Jashore administration has taken prompt action to arrange accommodate for the India-returnees. However, many returnees alleged that they are not getting proper facilities by hotel authorities.
They said they are facing financial hardship for staying at hotels, after spending a lot of money in India for treatment purposes. They demanded quarantine in their own district.
Despite the administration's initiatives, the risk of the Indian variant remains high, due to truckers continuing to enter Bangladesh through Benapole Land Port.
Some 350 trucks bring goods to the land port from Indian states, some of which have been badly affected by Covid-19.
The truckers do not follow health guidelines during their stay at the port, our Benapole correspondent reports.
Although they were directed to stay inside their vehicles at the port, they roam around freely, claimed Mafizur Rahman Sazan, president of C&F Agents Association, Benapole.
People's concerns in the bordering areas of Bangladesh are growing, as the pandemic's second wave has devastated India.
India recorded 3,980 deaths in the last 24 hours till Thursday morning, the highest in a day so far, pushing the total fatalities to 2,30,168.