Outbound migrants will be prioritised in the government's vaccination drive against Covid-19, the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment said on Thursday.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has issued a letter adding outbound expatriate workers to the list of groups to get the vaccine on a priority basis, the ministry said in a press statement.
The DGHS announcement comes following a Wednesday meeting on the issue between Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed, and Health Minister Zahid Malek.
Last month, Saudi Arabia, the biggest job market for Bangladeshi migrant workers, in a travel advisory asked passengers from non-restricted countries like Bangladesh, to get vaccinated to avoid a seven-day institutional quarantine in the kingdom.
Manpower recruiting agencies in Bangladesh have been demanding that migrant workers be given the Covid-19 vaccine on a priority basis to save money spent on hotel quarantine.
"Around 50,000 Saudi-bound workers with new work visas have been waiting to go to their respective workplaces. They have to maintain a seven-day hotel quarantine in the destination country that costs each worker around Tk70,000," said Abul Bashar, former president of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies.
"These migrant workers can save at least Tk350 crore from being spent as quarantine fees if the government prioritises inoculating them against Covid-19," he added.
"Although the government has agreed to pay Tk25,000 to subsidise quarantine fees, migrant workers still have to pay the remaining amount as well as high airfare," he added.