A total of 946 Bangladeshi citizens, most of whom are migrant workers, returned to the country by four separate special flights from Kuwait, Oman, UAE, and Russia in the last 24 hours.
All of them were allowed to stay in home quarantine, which may cause spread of Covid-19, public health experts said as most of them do not have the facilities at home to ensure that the guidelines of quarantine are being followed.
Of the returnees, 743 Bangladeshi expatriate workers who either stayed in detention camps or prisons of Kuwait, USA and Oman returned as part of the 29,000 Bangladeshi workers set to be sent back from the Middle Eastern countries during the pandemic, sources at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, said.
They were brought to the country by three separate chartered flights, Md Mahbubur Rahman, a doctor at the heath desk of HSIA, told The Daily Star today.
The rest of the 203 Bangladeshis returned from Russia at the HSIA by a special flight, added Dr Mahbubur.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in early April had said different Middle East countries especially the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are likely to send back around 29,000 Bangladeshi workers, in the next couple of weeks.
Many of these Bangladeshis are now in prisons or detention camps in the Middle Eastern countries. They have, however, been granted general amnesty due to the coronavirus pandemic, foreign ministry sources said.
Of the total 29,000, several thousand Bangladeshi workers already returned from different ME countries in the last two weeks, said the source without giving any details.
Momen also had said that, Bangladesh requested the ME countries not to send back its workers during Covid-19 pandemic. But they didn't pay heed to the request.
All the Bangladeshi workers and others who returned to the country recently were sent to home quarantine as they showed health certificates saying they did not have Covid-19.
But public health experts have raised questions about the certificates.
Earlier a government-appointed expert committee warned the government that the country may have to grapple with a second wave of coronavirus infections if the government fails to ensure strict institutional quarantine for the 29,000 Bangladeshi workers set to return.
Prof Muzaherul Huq, former adviser (Southeast Asia Region) of the World Health Organization, said earlier that we had a bitter experience in the recent past by allowing migrant Bangladeshi workers to go into home quarantine.
Besides, in socio-economic conditions like ours, most people don't have facilities at their homes to ensure that the guidelines are being followed, he said adding that home quarantine is not practical and feasible for many specially for low income people.