179 Bangladeshi expats stuck in Muscat airport after suspension of flights from Oman
A total of 179 Bangladeshi expatriates are stuck at the Muscat International Airport after Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) added Oman to a list of 12 countries from which passengers would not be allowed to enter Bangladesh as part of the country's Covid-19 containment measures.
Two special flights from Muscat to Dhaka had to be cancelled yesterday night due to the new directive issued in a circular yesterday.
The Bangladeshi community in Oman has demanded lifting of the travel ban as their return to the country for Eid-ul-Fitr has been plunged into uncertainty.
Passengers at the airport said no one was aware of Caab's new instructions given only a few hours before the scheduled flights.
One of the suspended flights is that of Oman Air, which had 37 passengers, and the other was Salam Air with 142 passengers.
Passengers at the airport said Oman cannot be listed as a high-risk country -- although the infection rate has increased slightly over the last few days, it is not as uncontrolled as other countries on the list. Moreover, Oman is not on the list of high-risk countries of the world at the moment, the passengers said.
According to a Caab circular, Oman is one of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries at risk in Group A.
No one can come to Bangladesh from Oman, the circular mentioned.
However, expatriate Bangladeshis or Bangladeshi nationals who have visited any of the 12 countries, including Oman, in the last 15 days can return to Bangladesh with special permission from concerned authorities and have to stay in quarantine for 14 days at their expense in a government-approved hotel, the circular also said.
"The Covid-19 situation in Oman is under complete control. Offices, courts, commercial establishments are open following the hygiene rules. There is a lockdown from 9:00pm to 4:00am every day. We did not understand why Oman is on the list of high-risk countries," said Sirajul Haque, president of Bangladesh Social Club in Oman.
Requesting for exclusion of Oman from the list of high-risk countries, Yasin Chowdhury, president of Chattogram Association in Oman, said "Bangladeshi migrants think that it is a reckless decision to add Oman in the list of high-risk countries even though Oman is not even close to the coronavirus situation in India or Brazil."
He said it is inhumane to make expatriates suffer in uncertainty forcing them to make quick decisions without giving them any time. Therefore, it is necessary to reconsider the matter quickly.