Several thousand Saudi Arabia-bound Bangladeshi migrant workers are facing untold sufferings due to new travel advisory issued by the kingdom that requires medical insurance covering the risk of covid-19 infections and hotel reservations for institutional quarantine.
The Saudi authority said violators will be deported from the country and banned indefinitely from entering the Gulf country.
Talking to The Daily Star today at the Saudia office at Dhaka's Karwanbazar, Saudi-bound expatriate workers said they need to spend around Tk 65,000-70,000 to comply with the new conditions.
Following the new travel advisory that came into effect from May 20, Biman Bangladesh Airlines was forced to suspend all international flights to Saudi Arabia for five days till May 24, saying they need time to make arrangements to comply with the latest travel advisory.
Several thousand expatriate workers who failed to travel to Saudi Arabia due to suspension of Biman flights said they fear that their visas would expire if they fail to return to their workplaces in the country on time.
The suspension of Biman flights will cause uncertainty in the return of several thousand Bangladeshi workers to their workplaces in Saudi Arabia, sources at Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB), said.
Biman currently operates flights to three destinations in Saudi Arabia. The destinations are Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah.
The airline operates 18 flights a week to these destinations.
NEW TRAVEL ADVISORY
As per Saudi Arabia General Authority Civil Aviation (GACA) circular, the Government of KSA requires institutional quarantine for those who intend to travel to the Gulf country from non-restricted countries and should have medical insurance that covers the risk of Covid-19 infections.
According to the new travel advisory, all travelers must obtain a medical insurance to cover their treatment of Covid-19.
"The insurance should cover the cost of treatment in outpatient clinic, emergencies and hospitals including institutional quarantine for a period of up to 14 days," says the new advisory.
Saudi citizens and their companions are exempt from institutional quarantine if they are fully vaccinated or passed 14 days after taking 1st dose or recovered from Covid-19 within 6 months . Otherwise they have to complete seven days' home quarantine.
The exemption also applies to passengers who has passed 14 days after receiving full Covid-19 vaccine doses and possess a vaccination certificate. The vaccination certificate must be certified by the health authorities from the country of vaccination.
Non-vaccinated/non-exempt Saudi citizens and their accompanying domestic workers, diplomats and their residing families shall complete seven days' home quarantine and will undergo a Covid-19 test on sixth day of their home quarantine.
All travelers arriving in the KSA shall undergo seven days' institutional quarantine (except those who are exempted, mentioned above) at own expense and shall complete a PCR test on day 1 and day 7. Children under the age of eight are exempted from PCR test.
The reservation of the institutional quarantine shall be through the respective airlines.
Airlines should contract with institutional quarantine establishments that are listed by Ministry of Tourism and shall inform GACA and Ministry of Tourism about the quarantine institutions.
Airlines shall contract with medical care centers to perform two PCR tests -- on day 1 and day 7 -- of all travelers at institutional quarantine facilities and facilitate the transportation of all travelers.
Saudi Arabia also demanded that the airline submit the list of passengers to the country's authorities four days before their departure.