[ Online ] 2021-11-28
Bangladesh mulls fresh travel restrictions
The authorities in Bangladesh said on Saturday that they were examining the options to impose a fresh restriction on international passengers travelling to and from South African countries following the discovery of new coronavirus variant Omicron.

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman told New age that they were still observing the situation and examining the practices followed by other countries on the new variant, considered more transmissible than others.

‘Since we don’t have direct flights from South Africa,  whoever comes to Bangladesh from the country will face some screening already at other airports…we will see whether we need to expand our quarantine facilities,’ he said.

‘We cannot stop any of our citizens from visiting Bangladesh but we can make sure that the best possible health protocol is maintained at every airport,’ he said, adding, ‘We are waiting to hear from the health ministry.’

Quoting health minister Zahid Maleque, United News of Bangladesh reported that the government was planning to put restrictions on the passengers travelling from South Africa.

‘The [health] ministry is aware of the new variant and directives have already been given to take necessary steps to tackle it in Bangladesh and the officials concerned have been asked to remain alert,’ he said in a programme.

Zahid also urged all not to panic and maintain the health protocol strictly.

‘The authorities concerned at our airports and land ports have been asked to strengthen screening while people entering the country,’ he said.

Besides, the minister said, the deputy commissioners concerned have been asked to take steps to ensure the use of masks and abiding by health guidelines by people.

South African scientists identified the new version of the coronavirus this week that they say is behind a recent spike in Covid-19 infections in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province.

In a statement on Friday, the WHO designated it as a ‘variant of concern,’ naming it Omicron after a letter in the Greek alphabet.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that countries have rushed to cut off or restrict travel to the southern region of Africa, aiming to slow the spread of the just-discovered Omicron variant, which has a high number of mutations and has raised fears about the global trajectory of the pandemic.

Australia and Japan are among the latest nations to either halt flights to the region or announce mandatory quarantines and screenings. Thailand said it would bar entry from the same eight countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa —that the United States had targeted with restrictions one day earlier.
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