The airport authorities in Dhaka and Chattogram yesterday began the screening process of China-returnee passengers to prevent probable outbreak of a SARS-like virus that has claimed six lives so far.
A medical team at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in Dhaka started screening passengers of a flight that arrived at 7:30am from China, AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, director of the airport, told The Daily Star.
At 3:30pm, the team also screened the passengers of the second flight, out of three, coming from China.
No suspected cases were found during the screening, confirmed the officials.
The third flight is scheduled to arrive at 11:00pm, airport sources said.
The flights carrying the passengers from China are of US Bangla airlines, China Eastern airlines and the China Southern airlines, who operate one flight each daily.
Although there are no direct flights from China, authorities of Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram issued an alert in this regard, our Chattogram correspondent reports.
“Some passengers have to stop in China for transit to come Chattogram. As per the directives of the Directorate General of Health Services, we will screen them,” said Wing Commander ABM Sarwar-e-Jaman, manager of the airport.
The move comes following the breakout of a new SARS-like virus in China’s Yuhan province with rising fears of a bigger outbreak after China’s National Health Commission confirmed on Monday that the virus can be passed between people, according to AFP.
As per the alert, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) would be notified, if symptoms are found in any passenger.
The IEDCR would then test the passenger further in their laboratory in Kurmitola General Hospital, according to officials.
“They would work as per procedure,” Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer at the Department of Medical Entomology at IEDCR, told The Daily Star.
Earlier on Monday, a team of IEDCR briefed the physicians working in HSIA for the detection of probable cases.
The symptoms the airport authorities would look for among passengers are fever, cough, cold, breathing difficulties and sore throat.
The new coronavirus strain has caused alarm because of its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.