‘I could not celebrate Eid with parents last year either, and I am practically under arrest this year,’ says one of the students
Eid is usually a joyful time of family gatherings. But this year, the festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan has denied 91 Bangladeshi students any cheer.
These students were forced to celebrate Eid at government-designated Covid-19 quarantine centres in Lalmonirhat, having returned to the country through Burimari Land Port in the past fortnight from neighbouring India, where they study at different schools.
In fact, the new Indian variant of coronavirus has already been detected in Bangladesh, prompting authorities to axe travel corridors with the neighbouring nation from April 26.
Besides, the World Health Organization has designated it "a variant of concern" that might be more contagious than most variants of coronavirus.
All these students study at different schools in the Himalayan town of Darjeeling in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal and have returned to Bangladesh in the past 15 days to celebrate Eid with their loved ones.
Sources at Burimari Land Port said a total of 201 students studying at various schools in India have returned to Bangladesh since April 26, after taking permission from the Bangladesh embassy in Delhi.
During the same period, some 101 Indian students have returned to their country.
Some 43 VI and VII standard students of Senmai Boarding School in Darjeeling were among the returnees. They have been kept at centres for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Besides, parents of many students who have come to take their child back home, are also kept at the quarantine centres in the district for allegedly coming in contact with their wards.
Abrar Yeasir, a class VII student, hailing from Chittagong, said: “I have been living at this quarantine facility for the past 12 days, but the authorities concerned have yet to take any initiative to conduct my Covid-19 test."
Another class VI student, hailing from Comilla district, said: “Last year too, I could not celebrate Eid with my parents due to the pandemic. This year, I am virtually under arrest."
Ruhul Amin Babul, president of the Export-Import Association at Burimari Land Port and chairman of Patgram upazila, said: “All the 91 students who came from India are being looked after at the quarantine centres."
Mohammad Saiful Islam, Patgram upazila health and family planning officer, said: “Samples of the residents of Burimari and Patgram quarantine centres will be taken in phases. We have got negative results of five students and they will be released soon.”
On May 8, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed the first case of Indian coronavirus strain in Bangladesh.
The Indian strain of coronavirus was detected in a sample test at Evercare Hospital in Dhaka and it has been published on Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), said Chief Scientific Officer of IEDCR ASM Alamgir.
Later that day, two more confirmed cases of Indian coronavirus strain were detected at the Genome Center of Jessore University of Science and Technology.
Bangladesh decided to extend the closure of the border with India for another 14 days on the same day, keeping movement of cargoes uninterrupted as the Covid-19 situation keeps worsening in India.