Bangladesh puts borders on alert after India confirms omicron cases

The government has alerted officials at borders after two people tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant omicron in India’s Karnataka

No one will be allowed to cross the border into Bangladesh without a COVID-negative certificate, the Directorate General of Health Services said on Friday.

No travellers from India will require institutional quarantine for now, said Ahmedul Kabir, an additional director general at the DGHS.

“We’ve sent a message to all officials at borders with India. They are carrying out health screening of anyone who enters Bangladesh, while everyone is being asked for COVID test certificates. Anyone with positive results is barred from entering.”

The omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa in November, has been identified in several European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Portugal and Italy, while cases were also found in Australia and the United States.

The National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID recommended barring the entrance of travellers into Bangladesh from countries where omicron has been identified.

Individuals who had travelled to these countries two weeks prior to arriving in Bangladesh should also face a 14-day quarantine, the committee said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh on Friday announced a 14-day institutional quarantine for travellers coming from seven African nations in a bid to prevent the spread of the variant.

Any passenger who arrives directly from or has been to any of these countries in the past 14 days must go into quarantine. They must book a room at a designated quarantine hotel before travelling to Bangladesh.

Also, the travellers must carry a COVID-negative certificate after undergoing the RT PCR test within 48 hours of the flight. However, the rule does not apply to children under the age of 12.

Ahmedul said the DGHS was yet to decide whether to put travellers from India in quarantine. “[We are going to] keep the significant ports open and bar anyone from entering there without a COVID-negative certificate.”

India’s health ministry confirmed two cases with the omicron variant in the southern state of Karnataka on Thursday and the government advised states to ramp up testing.