Bangladesh Panel Wants Curbs at Borders with India to Contain Covid

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Border Security Force (BSF) officials present sweet boxes to Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) personnel on the occasion of the Diwali festival, at the India-Bangladesh border on the outskirts of Agartala, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. | Photo Credit: PTI

Mushtuq Husain, former Chief Scientific Officer of the Institute of Epidemiology and Disease Control, suggested imposing institutional quarantine requirements on arrivals from India

DHAKA – The National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) of Bangladesh on Covid-19 has stressed the need to introduce strict cross-border travel restrictions amid an alarming surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in the neighbouring country India.

The committee’s chief, Professor Mohammad Shahidullah, warned about a ‘definite risk’ of the infection spreading further in the country unless travel to and from India is not regulated.

Shahidullah laid strong emphasis on restricting and limiting the movement of people between the two countries. “If we can’t restrict the movement of people from India and quarantine them, it (Covid-19) will certainly spread in Bangladesh.”

He said that the members of the NTAC have already discussed the matter. “We’ll inform the government. However, we have not yet placed any recommendation before the government. But, we’ll certainly do it. It has been discussed at a meeting of the members.”

“We want strict border controls. Cross-border travel between the countries must be limited. This means that no one should travel without a necessity. Travel for tourism, recreation, or other similar reasons may be suspended.”

He said that members of the national committee had already discussed the matter and the panel intends to make a formal recommendation about it.

Mushtuq Husain, former Chief Scientific Officer of the Institute of Epidemiology and Disease Control, suggested imposing institutional quarantine requirements on arrivals from India.

He also said, “If the border cannot be closed completely, then those who come from India should be kept in a 14-day institutional quarantine. There is no alternative.”

He noted that most of incoming travellers from India are citizens of Bangladesh and they cannot be stopped by shutting down the border.

“But they must get their samples tested 72 hours in advance (of travelling). They must carry a coronavirus-negative certificate and quarantine upon arrival. If possible, everyone should be kept in institutional quarantine. If that is not possible, we must ensure that they quarantine at home.”

Mushtuq, however, played down concerns over the coronavirus variant that is running rampant across India and said that it has not yet been proven to be more harmful than other strains. -IANS

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