46 go to the UAE on trial
Around 46 Bangladeshi expatriate workers flew to UAE last night on an experimental basis following Covid-19 tests in a mobile RT-PCR lab within six hours of their flight.
Carrying the workers, an Emirates plane departed Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 7:30pm, Shahriar Sazzad, a health official at the airport, told The Daily Star.
After landing at Dubai International Airport, the UAE authorities will conduct another Covid-19 test on the passengers at the airport's RT-PCR lab.
"If the two results [of Dhaka and Dubai tests] are same [and negative], then the expatriate passengers will get access to enter the Gulf country," Sazzad also said.
In case of any difference in the results of any individual, the UAE will take measures in line with their Covid-19 protocol.
"In that case, the UAE authorities might send the passenger into isolation or quarantine."
Sources at the Dhaka airport said the UAE will examine the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the respective healthcare facilities at the HSIA.
If it approves the SOP, expatriate Bangladeshis will be able to return to their workplaces on a regular basis, added the source.
Sazzad said DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostic, one of the seven healthcare facilities permitted to set up labs at the HSIA, have so far installed a mobile lab to conduct Covid-19 test for UAE-bound passengers.
In August, the UAE lifted their ban on flight operations from Bangladesh and several other countries but made the RT-PCR test result mandatory for passengers flying in from Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia and Indonesia.
Since then, the expatriate Bangladeshis in UAE, who sent home about 10 percent of the $24.8 billion of the remittance the country received in the last fiscal year, have been demanding test facilities at the country's three international airports.
Around 35,000 Bangladeshi expatriates are waiting to return to work in the UAE.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 6 instructed the ministries concerned and the Health Directorate to set up labs at the international airports in Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet within two to three days.
The expatriates' welfare ministry on September 15 announced that on the basis of the recommendations made by the Health Directorate, it has given permission to seven healthcare facilities to set up labs at the HSIA.
The following day on September 16, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) at a meeting asked the representatives of the seven organisations to set up their labs at the rooftop of the two-storey car park building at the Dhaka airport.
The representatives argued that it would not be possible for them to set up labs in an open space due to various complications. CAAB, however, remained rigid on their stance.
On September 21, Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad and Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the venue designated by the CAAB is not suitable for setting up labs for now.
In the presence of top officials of Prime Minister's Office, the two ministers in a new decision said labs will now be set up temporarily inside the airport.