46 expats flying to UAE after being tested for Covid at Dhaka airport
Around 46 Bangladeshi expatriate workers are flying out to the UAE tonight after being tested for Covid-19 in a mobile RT-PCR lab at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport -- the first UAE-bound departure from Bangladesh since April.
The testing and subsequent flight is on an experimental basis and will mark the first instance of compliance with the UAE's condition that all incoming passengers are tested for Covid-19 a maximum of six hours before their flight.
The Emirates flight carrying the expatriate workers is set to depart at 7:30pm, said Dr Shahriar Sajjad, a health official at the HSIA.
By 3:00pm today, the 46 expatriates were tested for Covid-19 in the mobile RT-PCR lab set up by DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostic, he said.
DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostic is one of the seven healthcare facilities given approval by Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to set up a lab at the HSIA.
Asked about the experimental flight, Dr Sajjad said the UAE authorities will examine the total process of carrying out Covid-19 tests on the 50 expatriate Bangladeshis at HSIA.
After landing at the Dubai International Airport, the UAE authorities will again carry out Covid-19 tests on the passengers through their RT-PCR lab.
"If the two results [test reports in Dhaka and Dubai] are similar, the expatriate passengers will be allowed to enter the Gulf country," Dr Sazzad also said.
In case of any dissimilarities in results, the UAE will government will take measures in line with their Covid-19 protocol.
"In that case, the UAE authorities might send the passenger for isolation or keep them in quarantine."
Sources at HSIA said through today's process, the UAE authorities will examine the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the healthcare facilities asked to set up the labs at HSIA to test UAE-bound passengers.
If the UAE government approves the SOP, expatriate Bangladeshis will be able to return to their workplaces on a regular basis, added the sources.
In August, UAE lifted Covid-induced bans on flight operations from Bangladesh -- imposed in April -- and several other countries but made the RT-PCR test result mandatory for passengers flying in from Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia and Indonesia.
Since then, expatriate Bangladeshis in UAE, who sent home about 10 percent of the $24.8 billion of remittance the country received last fiscal year, have been demanding that RT-PCR testing be set up at the country's three international airports.