Wuhan-returned B’desh pilots barred from other countries


Dhaka, Feb 4 (IANS) The pilots of a special flight that brought back 312 Bangladeshis from China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, were being barred from other countries over fears of spreading the fatal disease, a media report said.

The situation was complicating plans to evacuate another 171 Bangladeshis stranded in the locked-down Chinese city, bdnews24 said in the report citing Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam as saying on Monday.

He made the remarks after a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on World Health Organization’s declaration of a global health emergency over the virus which has killed over 425 people in China and has spread to 25 countries.

“We are having problems sending out our aircraft. The pilots of the plane which flew to China are not being allowed to enter other countries.

“We have to see if we can charter another plane as that will be the best option. Our first preference is to charter a Chinese plane,” Islam added.

Amid mounting fears over the outbreak, 312 Bangladeshi students and researchers were brought back from Wuhan onboard a Boeing 777-300 aircraft on February 1, said the bdnews24 report.

They are currently undergoing a 14-day quarantine at the Ashkona Hajj Camp in Dhaka.

Among them, eight were found to have high body temperatures and subsequently hospitalised.

But they have since tested negative for the coronavirus, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.

In South Asia, India has confirmed three cases of the coronavirus, while Sri Lanka and Nepal have reported one case each.