India Returnees: Covid negative certificate a must for release | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 11, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:00 AM, May 11, 2021

India Returnees: Covid negative certificate a must for release

Decides home ministry; going home suicidal, says Zahid Maleque

Those returning to the country from India will be released from  institutional quarantine only upon completing the 14-day quarantine  period and testing negative for Covid-19.

The decision was made in  an emergency health ministry meeting yesterday, where Health Minister  Zahid Maleque termed people's decision to travel to their home districts  for Eid "suicidal" after the highly contagious Indian variant was  recently detected in Bangladesh.

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"Taking advantage of the relaxation of lockdown, moving from one district to another is a suicidal decision," he said.

The  health minister said the Indian variant has been killing thousands of  people in India and then created a situation of terror in Nepal, and is  now found in Bangladesh.

"If people continue moving around recklessly, a situation like [that in] India and Nepal may be created in Bangladesh after Eid," he warned.

The minister also said immediate steps need to be taken so that vehicles from border districts cannot move to other districts.

The  health ministry also instructed field officials to send critical  patients returning from India to tertiary-level hospitals under police  guard to ensure quarantine.

It also instructed that if medical  treatment is possible in the district of the land ports, patients  returning from India will have to take treatment there, said health  officials.

The health ministry held the emergency meeting  yesterday with divisional health officials and officials of border  districts, including those of Jashore and Brahmanbaria, to analyse the current situation and to contain the transmission of the Indian variant.

"All  who came back from India will have to stay in institutional quarantine.  After completing the quarantine period, they have to go through  [Covid-19] tests and if the results come negative, they will be released  from quarantine," Prof Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director  general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told The Daily  Star yesterday.

He also said a decision was made to scale up  testing facilities in the border districts to contain the transmission  of the Indian variant.

"After people's arrivals from India, random  samples will be collected to see whether anyone is infected with  Covid-19. If found, those will be sent for genome sequencing," the DG  said.

Khurshid asked the civil surgeons of border districts to  ensure proper contact tracing if any Indian returnees were found  infected with Covid-19.

The meeting also decided that those who  have visas for longer stays in India will be discouraged to return to  Bangladesh right now.

"We will request all the ministries concerned to be stricter in limiting the movement between the two countries," Khurshid said.

The  concerns have arisen after the double mutant Indian Covid-19 variant  made its way to Bangladesh due to a lack of strict enforcement of  institutional quarantine for those returning from India.

The  government has found eight people infected with the Indian variant and  all of them entered the country through the Benapole land port. In the  meeting, it was said that the presence of the Indian variant is a matter  of serious concern.

Soon after the announcement on Saturday that  the Indian variant was detected in the country, the government extended  the closure of borders with India -- originally imposed on April 26 --  for 14 more days.

The India variant, known as B.1.617, was first detected in that country in October last year.

It  is far more transmissible than previous strains. Very recently, it was  reported that the variant has three different subtypes with slightly  different genetic mutations.

The subtype, B.1.617.2, found in  Bangladesh, appears to spread quicker than the two other subtypes  detected by scientists in India.

India's crematoriums and burial  grounds have been overwhelmed by the devastating new surge of infections  tearing through the populous country at terrifying speed, depleting the  supply of life-saving oxygen to critical levels and leaving patients to  die while waiting in line to see doctors, reports AP from New Delhi.


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