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Coronavirus: Govt to bar travellers from UK, Turkey too

  • Published at 12:40 pm March 19th, 2020
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen
File photo of Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Ban on people from all virus-affected countries to be considered if needed, the foreign minister says

Amid the rising number of Covid-19 patients in the country, the government has decided, in principle, to ban travellers from the United Kingdom and Turkey, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.

Earlier on March 12, the government banned entry of travellers, including Bangladeshis, from Europe for two weeks, except the UK.

The foreign minister further said the government would consider banning travellers from every Covid-19-affected country, if the situation demanded.

“Given the evolving situation with respect to coronavirus, we have decided in principle to ban passengers from the UK and Turkey. With this, people from the whole of Europe will be barred from travelling to Bangladesh,” Dr Momen told this correspondent.

“Having discussed the issue, we [The Ministry of Foreign Affairs] have forwarded our recommendations to the Health Ministry for implementation. The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh will enforce the order,” he added.

Asked when the ban will be put in place, Dr Momen said: “It should not take much time.” About the ban on travellers from all affected countries, the minister said: “We think the time has not yet come for us to do that.

However, he hastened to add: “We are closely monitoring the situation. We will definitely consider barring people from all affected countries, if required.”

Replying to a question, Dr Momen defended the arrival of Bangladeshis from Europe despite the restriction. “Look, these people are citizens of this country. We can request them not to come, but we cannot stop them from coming to their own country. Two foreigners – one from the United States and the other from Ivory Coast – arrived in the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and we sent them back right away.

“Having said this, I would say that we almost stopped the arrivals of Bangladeshis from Europe,” he said. “We are ensuring 14-day quarantine for those who are coming from Europe.”

Asked about the arrival of seven Bangladeshis from Sweden and Slovenia on Thursday with the permission of the Foreign Ministry, Dr Momen said: “They are our people. Sometimes, you have to make exceptions on humanitarian and compelling grounds.

“It will be ensured that those who arrived today [Thursday] will be in quarantine for 14 days,” the foreign minister added.

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