Coronavirus: PM orders Bangladeshis to be brought back from China

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given directives to bring back the Bangladeshis, who are stuck in coronavirus-stricken China and want to return.

“I have already started discussions with the Chinese government in this regard,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam disclosed the matter in a Facebook post on Monday morning.

The process to bring back the Bangladeshis will depend on the local administration’s consent in the context of the current situation, he added.

The state minister also said: “Our main target is to ensure the security of the citizens of our country.”

Later in the day, a preliminary instruction will be issued over preparing a list of the Bangladeshi nationals willing to return from China, he added.

As of Monday, China confirmed 2,744 cases of infection, while the death toll from the virus grew to 80.

Earlier on Sunday, a senior official of the Foreign Ministry told Dhaka Tribune that they will issue a directive, urging all Bangladeshis in China to leave the Wuhan, if they are able to do so.

“We have tried and are trying to get our people out of Wuhan. But, the Chinese government is not allowing anybody, including Bangladeshis, to get out of the city as part of precautionary measures. The Chinese are serious because this virus is very infectious and the Chinese authorities do not want to take any risk in this regard,” he said.

The official also said: “The US Embassy in China asked the Chinese government to allow them to airlift their citizens from Wuhan. However, they [Chinese government] did not respond.”

The official also said Bangladesh’s mission in China has been in close contact with the provincial government and the local foreign office in this regard.

The virus, believed to have originated late last year at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, which was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France, Canada, and India.

As the number of coronavirus cases keeps surging in Wuhan, around 500 Bangladeshi students living there are concerned about their fate, with many seeking help to return home.

Through social media, the students said they were not only at risk of being infected with the virus but were also facing a scarcity of food as the city of 11 million people has been in lockdown since January 23.

The newly-identified coronavirus has created alarm because there are still many unknowns surrounding it, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.

China’s National Health Commission said the incubation period for the virus can range from one to 14 days, and the virus is infectious during incubation, which was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

SARS was a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.

The new coronavirus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

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