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No need for travel ban to Bangladesh: WHO

Published : 13 Mar 2020 10:04 PM | Updated : 05 Sep 2020 12:40 AM

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, does not recommend any travel and trade restrictions to Bangladesh. “WHO has not recommended travel and trade restrictions as such yet,” Dr Bardan Jung Rana, WHO representative in Bangladesh, told Bangladesh Post in reply to a question on Friday during a view exchange programme.

The Director of the government’s disease monitoring wing, IEDCR, Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, earlier on Thursday, told Bangladesh Post that they sought the UN agency’s opinion on the travel issue as increasing number of countries are imposing entry restrictions due to new coronavirus spread.

From Friday, India suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15. The Indian missions also stopped issuing new visas from Friday. The WHO representative said the world is now facing a pandemic. “But this is not the first time we are facing such a serious crisis like pandemic. It’s (pandemic) obvious when you cross so many countries it’s already pandemic,” he said.

He, however, said WHO cannot ‘overwrite’ what countries want. “But if you are imposing restrictions you have to inform (WHO) why you are imposing restrictions as per the international health regulations (IHR). You have to mention the reason,” he said.

“India has taken serious steps. But then India is trying to justify the reason why it is taking the protective measures,” he said. The WHO on Wednesday declared outbreak of the virus a pandemic, asking countries to take ‘urgent and aggressive’ measures to stop ‘unnecessary’ sufferings and deaths. India suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15.

Bangladesh earlier on March 8 confirmed the first three cases – two returned from Italy and the other was a family member of them. One of them went home while the other two were already tested negative for the presence of the virus.

People have been asked to follow personal hygiene like washing hands with soap, covering cough and sneezing and maintain at least 1 meter distance from any sick person to keep the virus at bay. Schools have been asked to promote the health and hygiene messages among the students.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked countries to take, “a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, built around a comprehensive strategy to prevent infections, save lives and minimize impact.” He summarised that in four key areas, “First, prepare and be ready. Second, detect, protect and treat. Third, reduce transmission. Fourth, innovate and learn.”

“I remind all countries that we are calling on you to activate and scale up your emergency response mechanisms; communicate with your people about the risks and how they can protect themselves – this is everybody’s business; find, isolate, test and treat every case and trace every contact; prepare your hospitals; protect and train your health workers. And let’s all look out for each other, because we need each other,” he said while announcing the pandemic on Wednesday.