All Saudi-bound Bangladeshi passengers test negative, will receive Covid-19 certificates at Dhaka airport | The Daily Star
10:48 PM, September 25, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:52 PM, September 25, 2020

All Saudi-bound Bangladeshi passengers test negative, will receive Covid-19 certificates at Dhaka airport

Expats urge authorities for better coordination

All the expatriate Bangladeshis who are scheduled to fly for Saudi Arabia tonight have tested negative for Covid-19.

However, none of them has yet received printed copy of the Covid-19 negative certificate which is needed for their entry to the Gulf country.

Health officials said the test reports have been sent as text messages to mobile numbers and via WhatsApp of passengers of tonight's flight to Saudi Arabia.

The officials also said the passengers can go to airport and receive printed copies of Covid-19 negative certificates from the health desk by showing the text messages sent to them.

A total of 260 Bangladeshis are scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia tonight via Saudi Airlines SV-802 flight. They have all been waiting anxiously for their Covid-19 certificates, counting every minute as they cannot go to Saudi Arabia without the certificate.

None of them received any message till 8:00pm tonight, but from 8:00pm onwards, many of them said they received text messages on their test results.

Dr Samir Kanti Sarkar, in charge of the coronavirus test center at Mohakhali's DNCC Market, told The Daily Star at 9:30pm, "We started sending text messages to the passengers from 8:00pm onwards. A total of 300 were tested today including the 260 KSA-bound passengers, and none of their test reports came positive."

"It would be difficult for them to reach airport in time if they come to Mohakhali for the printed copies of Covid-19 negative certificate. So we are requesting the KSA-bound passengers to directly go to the airport where they would be able to collect their certificates from the health desk. The health officials there have been already instructed to this end," he said.

"We do not want anyone to miss their flight," he added.

"We realised that we would not get the printed copies of the certificates in time, so we went to the airport and have been waiting for the reports," Mohammad Shahidullah, one of the passengers, told The Daily Star.

Some other KSA-bound passenger at the airport also echoed the same, adding that some others were on their way to the airport.

They called upon the authorities concerned to bring coordination to the service in a bid to prevent causing hassles to the expatriates, many of whom have been on the run for last five days or so, without even a scope to change their clothes.

The Saudi government has allowed international flights since September 15.

Bangladesh then allowed Saudi Airlines to operate two flights a week and the struggle started with getting tickets.

Returnees said, if they cannot go by September 30, they will lose their jobs.

Expatriates protested in front of the ticket booking office of Saudi Arabian Airlines adjacent to the Sonargaon Hotel in Karwan Bazar of the capital last week.

At the request of Bangladesh to solve the problem, Saudi Arabia decided to extend the work permit (Iqama) for another 24 days.

Although it was quite a relief, the worries about the ticket and the Covid-19 certificate within 48 hours are not over yet.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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