The government mulls setting up a Covid-19 testing booth and lowering the test fees for Bangladeshis going abroad to work as it begins implementing its decision that all passengers must show coronavirus negative certificates at airports from Thursday.
“We are in talks with the expatriates’ welfare ministry for setting up a dedicated booth for migrant workers. Fees for their tests can also be reviewed,” Khalilur Rahman, additional secretary and also the coordinator of the Covid-19 cell at the foreign ministry, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He, however, said it was not decided yet where the booth would be set up.
All passengers departing from Bangladesh must show Covid-19 negative certificates from government-listed 16 testing facilities. The tests must be done within 72 hours of their flight.
As per an announcement from the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab), the test of those scheduled to fly on July 23 began yesterday.
The 16 government-listed test facilities are: National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre, Institute of Public Health, and National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine in Dhaka; Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in Barishal; Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases in Chattogram; Cox’s Bazar Medical College (IEDCR Field Laboratory); Cumilla Medical College; Narayanganj 300 Bed Hospital; Khulna Medical College; Kushtia Medical College; Mymensingh Medical College; Bogura Medical College; Rajshahi Medical College; M Abdur Rahim Medical College in Dinajpur; Rangpur Medical College; and Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College.
The government has fixed Tk 3,500 for each test at the laboratories and Tk 4,500 in case a sample is collected from anyone’s home. The passengers must stay in home isolation until leaving for catching their flights.
The move comes after Italy, Japan, China and South Korea suspended flights from Bangladesh following identification of some Covid-19 patients.
Additional Secretary Khalilur said some countries, including South Korea, China, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, already require Covid-19 certificates while some other countries may also ask for them in future.
Asked what would happen if a passenger got infected after giving samples, he said that’s why they have been advised to remain in home quarantine. Besides, the countries requiring the certificates also said the samples have to be collected within 72 hours of the flight. It is because the virus takes at least three days to infect anyone, he said.
“If anyone is found Covid-19 positive after landing in any country, the authorities in that country would take their measures. But we are doing our part here in Bangladesh. The passengers also need to take the best care of themselves so they don’t get infected and maintain quarantine rules of the countries they visit,” Khalilur said.
Asked if the testing fees for the migrant workers were high, the additional secretary said they have already thought of the matter and talked to the expatriates’ welfare ministry about setting up a dedicated booth for the migrants going abroad with the emigration cards of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training. Fees for them could also be lowered, he added.