As the spread of coronavirus across the world continues, its effect on overseas migration from Bangladesh felt for the first time with Kuwait and Qatar slapping temporary travel ban on Bangladeshis and other nationalities.
The embargo on entries of the migrant workers from Bangladesh put the overseas employment sector at high risk as the disease spreads with human contact.
Recruiting Agencies said that several thousands of Bangladeshi workers with valid visas would not be able to enter Kuwait, Qatar and China.
In separate circulars, Kuwait and Qatar governments said that all arrivals in the countries from Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka , Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, who have valid residency or previous entry visa , as well as those from other airports, during the past two weeks were prohibited.
Dhaka-based government officials and recruiting agents said that in the worst case scenario, if the Middle East got infected, some of the major destinations of Bangladeshi workers would close down.
Workers and rights activists said that Bangladeshi workers in some coronavirus-affected countries had reportedly been gripped by panic and were desperately trying to come back home.
Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training director general Shamsul Alam said that workers were going abroad with job visas as usual as there was no impact of coronavirus on them.
‘But I cannot predict what will happen in the coming days if the coronavirus affect the destination countries,’ he said.
Kuwait, on Tuesday, made medical certificates for the nationals from 10 countries, including Bangladeshis, mandatory. But the state withdrew the restriction on Thursday following requests by the countries concerned.
At least three Bangladeshi nationals who recently returned from Italy had been detected positive of the coronavirus and identified as corona infected country.
So far, Bangladeshi citizens have been infected with the virus in Singapore, the UAE and Italy. As a result, a significant number of Bangladeshis, working in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, the UAE, Bahrain, Italy and Japan, are also struggling amid the ongoing outbreak.
The virus has already been detected in different Middle Eastern countries including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia restricted travel and Umrah visa to avoid movements of foreign nationals there.
Meanwhile, several hundreds of Bangladeshi workers who were scheduled to fly to Qatar were stuck in Dhaka due to suspension imposed by the Qatari government.
After Kuwait, the government of Qatar has suspended the entry for the people from Bangladesh and 13 other countries as a preventive measure due to the spread of coronavirus worldwide.
Hundreds of Bangladeshi workers, who were scheduled to fly, had not been allowed to board in aircrafts since Sunday said recruiting agencies in Bangladesh.
In a statement on Sunday, Government Communications Office (GCO) of Qatar said the step comes in line with its efforts to take all necessary preventive measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, reports Gulf Times.
The 13 others countries are: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand, reports the Qatar-based English daily.
‘The decision affects all individuals intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors,’" GCO said.
Qatar also urged all citizens and residents to avoid all but essential travel at this time.
Recruiting Agencies Okya Parishad president M Tipu Sultan told New Age that manpower recruitment from Bangladesh has been affected by the spread of coronavirus as Kuwait and Qatar already stopped entries.
Other destination countries were in the process of imposing restriction of movement of workers from Bangladesh, he assumed, adding that overseas jobs started to decline.