Only some mission’s officials, appointed to less important tasks, have left – along with their families
Most of the diplomats who have a key role in their respective missions in Bangladesh are staying in Bangladesh amid the coronavirus scare, mission officials have said.
However, some of the diplomats, appointed to less important tasks, have left Dhaka – along with their family members – on charter flights amid wide-ranging travel restrictions.
Flights to many different destinations, from Dhaka, have been suspended in recent weeks amid the coronavirus scare.
The foreign missions said those staying here are not too apprehensive about the coronavirus situation.
The Bangladesh government said all-out assistance would be extended to those foreign nationals choosing to stay here.
It said those planning to leave would have to do so by charter flights but would be offered help.
Some of the missions are arranging the return of their respective citizens. But others advised their nationals to stay here, and abide by the guidelines of the Bangladesh government and the missions.
The British High Commission in Dhaka said some of its officials and their families were sent back on March 21.
It said none of them had important duties and the key officials are still continuing their work.
The UK has discouraged its citizens from unnecessary travel and has advised those living overseas to return.
In a statement on Saturday, British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Chatterton Dickson said UK nationals in Bangladesh who want to return home should contact their travel agents to schedule flights.
He said Biman Bangladesh Airlines had suspended UK flights but might resume on April 7.
The envoy also advised the Britons to stay in close contact with the High Commission and follow the travel guidelines issued by it.
A charter flight is scheduled to transport US citizens back home from Dhaka on Monday, but the number of passengers could not be confirmed.
The US Embassy in Dhaka said the flight will go to Doha from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and will finally land at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
It said the passengers will not need to pay by cash or credit card. They will have to sign a promissory note regarding payment and will be charged economy class fare.
Upon the request of the Embassy of Japan, Biman has arranged a charter flight to return Japanese citizens living in Bangladesh.
Md Mokabbir Hossain, managing director of Biman, said the flight will depart at 10am on April 2.
He said 700-800 Japanese citizens are in Bangladesh at present.
The Embassy of Germany has also contacted Biman to arrange a charter flight to send German citizens back home.
On March 26, some 300 Malaysian and Bhutanese citizens left Dhaka on three flights. Of them, two Drukair flights carried 124 Bhutanese nationals while around 230 Malaysians took a Malaysia Airlines flight.
Most of these returnees were students, businesspeople and employees of aid agencies. None of them were diplomats or their family members.
Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das, in a statement on Saturday, called on Indian nationals living in Bangladesh not to panic over the coronavirus situation.
She said that the High Commission stands by them in this "special situation."
Md Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, told The Business Standard Bangladesh respects the decisions that foreign missions here are making in light of the global situation.
"Only some officials appointed to less important tasks have left along with their families. No envoy of any country who plays a crucial role has left yet," he continued.
"We are regularly communicating with the foreign missions and their respective ministries, and are working in cooperation," added Shahriar.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told The Business Standard three hospitals, including Apollo Hospitals Dhaka, are ready to provide treatment for diplomats and foreign nationals.
He said some US nationals would return on a charter flight on Monday.
Citizens of some other countries had left Dhaka earlier, said Momen.
He said the Sri Lankan foreign minister had requested him, by phone, to properly take care of 7,000-8,000 citizens of his country who are in Bangladesh now.
"They were worried about the situation earlier. Now, they do not want to leave," said the minister.
Momen believes the government of Bangladesh has taken necessary measures to tackle the coronavirus situation.
He said all types of measures, including security measures, had been taken for all – including foreigners.
"There is no need to panic in this situation," added Momen.