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Coronavirus: Bangladesh imposes 14-day quarantine on Gulf workers

Dhaka bans international flights from Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease
Bangladesh has reported eight cases of the cov-19 coronavirus illness and no deaths from the illness (AFP)

Bangladesh has imposed a 14-day compulsory quarantine on Bangladeshis coming back to the country and suspended flights from the Gulf till the end of March to stem the spread of the new coronavirus disease.

Dhaka made the announcement due to fears that a coronavirus outbreak will overwhelm the country's fragile health system. 

Gulf countries listed by the Bangladeshi government include Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, which have all reported cases of COVID-19 - the official name of the virus - and have a sizeable workforce from Bangladesh. 

Passengers who returned to the country would be checked and then sent to the Ashkona Hajj camp near Dhaka's international airport for further medical check-ups, according to officials

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abdul Momen on Saturday said all international flights will be halted until 31 March due to Bangladeshis refusing to heed calls by the government to not come back to the country.

"The virus came to Bangladesh from outside the country... and we cannot put our population of 160 million people in danger for a few who decide to return," Momen told a press briefing in Dhaka. 

"We have limited resources to tackle the situation if it gets worse [and] our core responsibility is to protect our people.” 

Bangladeshis who have come back have been told it would be compulsory to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days. Individuals who refuse to go into quarantine will be fined by the Bangladeshi government. 

Bangladesh has eight active cases of the coronavirus and has reported no deaths so far from the illness. 

Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have also banned flights to Bangladesh due to fears surrounding the virus. 

Last week, Saudi Arabia reported 24 new cases of the coronavirus, including a Bangladeshi worker who had contracted COVID-19 after being in contact with others who had the disease.