Omicron: Bangladesh health minister sees no need to close borders

Health Minister Zahid Maleque sees no need to close borders for now as he says the authorities have taken all-out preparations to stop the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant

The authorities are implementing a number of decisions taken in an inter-ministerial meeting to tackle the new strain, Maleque said at an event in Savar on Sunday.

“We don’t have a plan to close borders for now. The country is doing well and safe. The situation is not so bad that we will have to close the borders or enforce a lockdown. Screening and testing have been strengthened in the borders.” 

The authorities have also prepared the hospitals to tackle any possible situation, he said. The government has alerted all the districts to the imminent dangers of the variant.

The government alerted officials at borders on Friday after India detected cases of the omicron variant.

No one is allowed to cross the border into Bangladesh without a COVID-negative certificate. No travellers from India require institutional quarantine for now.

The omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa in November, has been identified in dozens of other countries around the world as scientists continue research to understand the dangers of infection with it.

The National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID recommended barring travellers from entering Bangladesh from the 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.

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.