Quarantine for People from Africa: Stern action if rules breached
Stern action will be taken against both hotel authorities and the incoming passengers from southern Africa, the epicentre of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, for breaching quarantine protocols.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said this yesterday as the high-risk variant is now present in more than 30 countries including neighbouring India.
Passengers arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, where the new potentially more contagious variant is dominant, will have to go for an institutional quarantine for 14 days.
The armed forces, the police and the Directorate General of Health Services will oversee the institutional quarantine, he told reporters after inspecting the Covid-19 testing facilities for Dubai-bound passengers at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
More than 100 hotels have been listed for quarantine purposes, with the passenger bearing the expense of the fortnight's stay.
"There are many irresponsible persons who do not think about themselves and their country -- they leave their hotels for their homes and roam around. We will penalise the hotels for letting anyone leave early."
The foreign returnees' passports will be held until the completion of the quarantine.
"We are going to take strict measures this year."
Last year, the coronavirus was able to sneak into Bangladesh because of lax measures.
And earlier this year, the Delta variant, the most aggressive strain of the coronavirus yet, had spread in the country as the government could not keep the returnees from abroad for the full duration of the quarantine.
The Delta variant, which emerged in late 2020 and quickly became the most common variant in India, went on to cause a deadlier second wave of Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh.
Indian health ministry said yesterday that two Covid cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Karnataka. Both the patients are men aged 66 and 46, reports NDTV.
Of them, 66-year-old is a foreigner with a history of travel to South Africa, the 46-year-old is a health worker in Bengaluru. The first patient left India seven days after his results came back positive.
All people who came in contact with the two men have been traced and are being tested, Health Ministry's Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said, adding that both the cases are mild and there are no severe symptoms so far.
'ON ALERT BUT NOT IN PANIC MODE'
First detected in South Africa on November 25, the Omicron variant has 50 mutations that scientists say may allow it to spread more quickly and cause more breakthrough infections in vaccinated or previously infected people, though neither characteristic has yet been confirmed.
"All are concerned about Omicron. We are also on alert but not in a panic mode. As we know, it spreads very fast but shows mild symptoms. The symptoms are not as severe as in Delta cases," Maleque said, while urging the foreign returnees to act responsibly.
A total of 240 people returned from South Africa to Bangladesh in the last month and they are traceless now as they provided fake addresses and contact numbers.
The number of RT-PCR labs will also be increased at the HSIA to increase testing capacities, he added.