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Coronavirus: Why are Bangladeshi students staying back in the US?

  • Published at 08:38 am April 8th, 2020
Students wearing masks in prevention of coronavirus
File photo: A group of students wearing protective masks walk outside a railway station amid coronavirus fears on March 10, 2020 Reuters

8,249 Bangladeshi students were enrolled in different US universities and colleges in 2018-19 academic year

As colleges and universities across the United States (US) cancelled in-person classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many Bangladeshi students studying there decided to stay there instead of returning home.

The decision to do so was not made lightly as several important factors came into consideration.

“Life became stressful for students who could not afford to return home or find new accommodations,” said Ahmed Alam, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi studying for a master’s degree at the University of Mississippi.

“It is true that the US has been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic compared to Bangladesh, but I decided to stay back because there is a possibility that I may not be able to return to the US any time soon if the pandemic lasts longer,” he said.

For Alam, it is stressful to live alone thousands of miles away from family, but he thinks travelling anywhere could be the worst decision in the current situation.

Alam gave three reasons for his decision to stay back in the US rather than going home.

First of all, the health service capacity in the US is much better than Bangladesh, he said. 

“I am also not convinced with the information that the authorities in Bangladesh are sharing daily regarding infection and death counts related to coronavirus,” he added.

Ahmed also suspects that if he came to Bangladesh now, he would not be able to return soon if the number of coronavirus infections increased drastically, which would jeopardize his studies, his main reason for going to the US.

Ahmed is now attending classes online and has stayed inside his house for the last 16 days except for emergencies.

Taib Ahmed, a postgraduate student at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, also decided to stay in the US and wait for the coronavirus pandemic to end instead of returning home.

“The situation is the worst in New York, but in other cities like Milwaukee, the condition is far better as of now. The citizens here are not panicking too much because of government interventions,” he said.

“We also have health insurance here which ensures that I will get tested and treated if I do get infected,” Taib added.

Taib was considering coming to Bangladesh in the summer on vacation but decided against it as he was not sure whether he could return to the US again if he did so.

Safin Jahid, who lives in North Dakota, is not worried at all despite the fact that Covid-19 cases are surging every day in the US.

“We have not been out of our house for days to ensure everyone’s safety but I see what is happening in Bangladesh: people are not staying at home nor maintaining proper guidelines while outside,” said Jahid.

“I am happy to stay in the US right now because I can at least get regular updates from the authorities and can get treatment and other facilities here, which I definitely cannot expect in Bangladesh,” he added.

Around 8,249 Bangladeshi students were studying in the US in the 2018-19 academic year, making Bangladesh one of the top 25 countries in the world sending students to the US.

The number of coronavirus infections in the US has exceeded 312,000, while the death toll passed 8,400, according to a report published by the Guardian. Cases per one million people there currently stands at 945.69.

Whereas in Bangladesh, 88 people have tested positive for coronavirus and there have been nine recorded deaths from coronavirus infection so far, taking cases per one million people to 0.52.

The fast spreading Covid-19 has claimed more than 65,600 lives and infected over 1,213,000 globally, according to Worldometer.