Omicron BF7: Land ports still left unguarded
Even though the new Covid-19 sub variant, BF7, appeared in neighbouring India, adequate preventive measures have not been taken yet by the health authorities at the Benapole and Hili immigration check posts.
Travellers expressed concern that the new variant may spread across the country.
No special activity of the medical team stationed at the aforesaid land ports was observed upon inspection on Monday. Almost none of people using the ports were seen using masks.
At the Benapole check post, thermal scanners and infrared thermometers have been rebooted for the necessary health checks especially for passengers coming from India.
But during a visit to the Immigration and Customs checkpoints areas on Monday, The Business Standard saw that most people did not have masks on.
Some had their masks hanging around their neck while a few incoming passengers wore the masks properly.
Besides, people crowding around Immigration and Customs checkpoints and passenger terminals were also not wearing masks, risking the increase of Covid infection among locals.
Moreover, Indian truck drivers were seen freely entering the Benapole port without masks.
No health check was being done on them. There were no disinfectant spray operations on cargo trucks, reports our Jashore correspondent.
When asked about precautionary measures taken to prevent the spread of new Omicron sub-variant, Abdul Jalil, deputy director (administration) at Benapole Immigration and Customs, said they would take measures once the health directorate gave instructions in this regard.
Sharsha Upazila Health Officer Dr Yusuf Ali said a medical team is working to check the health of inbound passengers at the Benapole check post immigration.
"As there is no permanent infrastructural facility for us at the check post, we are facing great difficulty in working. The matter has been informed to the health directorate," he added.
More than 1000 truck drivers with imports come to Benapole land port from different states of India daily while more than 300 truck drivers with exports go to Petrapole land port daily. Besides, around 18 lakh travellers use the land port annually.
No precautionary measures have been taken at the Hili immigration check post in Dinajpur amid spread of new variant of Covid in India.
An average of 500-600 passengers travel between India and Bangladesh every day through Hili immigration for various purposes.
"Although there is a testing booth, no health official was found," a traveller named Taj Farzana she told The Business Standard.
In contrast to travellers, Hili Immigration Check Post Officer-in-Charge (OC) Md Badiuzzaman said, "We are more alert than before due to the spread of new sub variant in India. Efforts are made to coordinate with the medical team. The suspected passengers are being brought to medical team."
Medical Officer of Hakimpur Upazila Health Complex, Dr Sultan Mahmud said a medical team is in work at the Hili immigration check post. Activities will be conducted in accordance with the instructions from the health ministry.
However, health screening of inbound travellers has been strengthened at Akhaura Immigration Check Post. Six Indian nationals underwent rapid antigen tests till 1 pm this morning but no case was detected, reports our Brahmanbria correspondent.
Dr Zahir Uddin of Akhaura Upazila Health Complex said health information of all inbound passengers is being recorded in the specific form to prevent the new omicron sub-variant.
If anyone is in doubt of Covid infection – he/she undergoes a rapid antigen test at the check post instantly. If anyone found Covid positive, they would be quarantined, Brahmanbaria Civil Surgeon Mohammad Ekram Ullah said.