Dhaka airport has sent the draft of the operational procedure of a RT-PCR lab to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
With the procedure approved by Abu Dhabi, the lab in Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport will be testing the UAE-bound Bangladeshi workers before they set off to the Middle Eastern country.
"We are committed to ensure the international standard at the airport RT-PCR," said Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), at Dhaka airport Monday.
He said CAAB expects the UAE to finalise the procedure shortly. The Middle Eastern country recently made it mandatory for Bangladeshi returnees to be tested Covid negative six hours prior to the flight.
The decision put around 40,000 UAE-bound Bangladeshi workers in limbo as they fear visa expiration and job losses since Bangladesh is yet to set up the lab at Dhaka airport.
Subsequently, the government moved to set up the lab immediately at the multi-storey car parking building at the airport and selected seven firms in this regard.
Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said six of the firms have submitted the standard operating procedure (SOP) that the CAAB forwarded to the UAE.
"If any passenger has to return due to false Covid-certificate issued by the firms, the concerned organisation will face the music," he added.
The approved facilities are – Stemz Health Care (BD) Ltd Dhaka, CSBF Health Centre, AMZ Hospital Ltd, Anwar Khan Modern Medical College Hospital, Zainul Haque Sikder Women's Medical College, Gulshan Clinic Ltd, and DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics.
Of them, Zainul Haque Sikder Women's Medical College did not submit the SOP, sources said.
Delay frustrates the workers
Eight UAE-bound workers who are unable to fly until the lab is set up visited the venue selected for the lab Monday. They said the delay in setting up the lab worries them.
"I came home on a five-month leave in January, and overstayed four months thanks to travel restrictions. Now I cannot return to my workplace as the lab is yet to be set up," said Rabin Das, a UAE returnee from Manikganj.
Rabin said if he fails to return by 1 October, the employer will fire him. Besides, his visa will expire on 16 October.
"There are 11 members in my family. I have already been struggling to make the ends meet," added Rabin.
Another returnee Salah Uddin told The Business Standard that they have met with the CAAB chairman Monday. He assured them to start the PCR lab facility within the next couple of days.
"We have been getting promises from various public agencies in the last two weeks. But there is no visible development," he said.
Outbound passengers will be able to undergo Covid-19 tests at the booths by paying a minimum of Tk1,700 to a maximum of Tk2,300, according to a ministry circular issued on Wednesday.