Outbound Workers: Registration for Covid vaccine likely to start next week
Outbound migrant workers' registration for Covid-19 vaccine is expected to begin sometime next week, the expatriates' welfare ministry said yesterday.
"It will be possible to register [for the vaccine] using [ the data of] BMET (Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training) registration and passport. We've got assurance in this regard," Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, secretary to the ministry, told reporters at a cheque hand-over ceremony for migrant workers, who applied for government subsidy to their hotel quarantine fees in Saudi Arabia.
The event, held at the ministry, was organised by the Wage Earners' Welfare Board (WEWB).
As per an earlier government announcement, each worker, travelling to Saudi Arabia between May 20 and June 30 and required to undergo hotel quarantine in the Kingdom, will be provided with Tk 25,000 as subsidy to the hotel bill.
The issue of Covid-19 vaccine registration emerged as a few hundred migrant workers yesterday demonstrated in front of the ministry demanding a vaccine rollout for them.
Addressing the demonstrating migrant workers at the ministry, Saleheen said they have been continuously holding talks with government authorities concerned, so that the workers get registered for vaccination on a priority basis.
He said they were also working to ensure that unregistered migrant workers get BMET registration as soon as possible and free of cost.
Claiming that the demonstrators gathered in front of the expatriates' welfare ministry following "false" information from a civil surgeon's office, he said they have already informed the health ministry about the matter. "The civil surgeon… showed sheer irresponsibility."
Addressing the workers, BMET Director General Shahidul Alam said they will need support from the information and communication technology division, which looks after the government's Surokkha app designated for vaccine registration, to ensure the service for migrant workers.
Besides, work is underway to ensure that migrant workers get vaccinated at the nearest centre from their homes and can fly abroad after taking one dose, the DG said.
Earlier at the cheque hand-over ceremony, Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad said Bangladeshi expatriates who obtain WEWB membership card can also get registered for vaccination.
Addressing the ceremony as the chief guest, he said as Saudi Arabia was not accepting certificates of people vaccinated with China's Sinopharm vaccine, he spoke to the Bangladesh foreign minister and Bangladesh ambassador in Saudi Arabia to address the issue diplomatically.
"We can tell the Saudi government that they can accept it [China-made vaccine] since it is approved by the World Health Organization."
Imran also said as time is a concern for migrant workers while undergoing vaccine rollout, his ministry also informed the health ministry to try to arrange Johnson and Johnson vaccine for them since it is a single-dose one, adding that, if required, the expatriates' welfare ministry is ready to bear the cost since it is for the wellbeing of the workers.
The minister also said Saudi Arabia has already said that workers who will enter the country within 14 days of having the first dose of Covid-19 vaccines such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca don't have to undergo institutional quarantine there.
The second dose will be arranged there.
Responding to a query, the minister said he has informed the labour welfare wing in Saudi Arabia to enquire about some allegations raised by Bangladeshi migrant workers regarding the standard of hotel quarantine facilities there.