Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Bangladesh adds part of Dhaka to high-risk areas as of July 3 due to coronavirus disease activity. Nationwide measures ongoing.

  • Alert Begins: 03 Jul 2020 05:51 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, increased security; possible clashes

Summary
Authorities in Bangladesh have established new Red (high-risk) Zones in Ward 41 of Wari in Dhaka South as of July 3 due to rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity; local authorities will implement strict measures 0600 July 4-1800 July 25. Other affected locations include Bogra, Brahmanbaria, Chittagong, Chuadanga, Comilla, Cox's Bazar, Faridapur, Habiganj, Jessore, Khulna, Kushtia, Madaripur, Magura, Manikganj, Moulvibazar, Munshiganj, Narayanganj, and Narsingdi districts. The government will place restrictions on nonessential activity, movement, and entry and exit in red zones for 21 days, to stem the spread of COVID-19 in high-risk areas. Officials will make exemptions for emergency and essential purposes.

The move is part of the government's initiative to provide localized COVID-19 risk assessments and responses using a color-coded classification system. Authorities have not released information on the number or location of Yellow (moderate risk) Zones. The three tiers that comprise the system are as follows:

 

  • Red (High-risk) Zone: defined as an area with 40 or more cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people. Red Zones are subject to a complete ban on all nonemergency movement and nonessential business activity. Citizens must stay indoors; only emergency vehicles may enter or leave such zones. Government agencies will deliver essential goods such as food to homes; authorities will also restrict banking services to ATMs. Cargo transit is permitted, albeit with limitations on routes and schedules.

 

  • Yellow (Moderate-risk) Zone: defined as an area having between 3-39 cases per 100,000 people. Residents are allowed limited freedom of movement to perform essential tasks, such as purchasing groceries. The degree of business activity that authorities permit within yellow zones is unclear.

 

  • Green (Low-risk) Zone: defined as an area reporting fewer than three cases per 100,000 people. Green zones have no movement restrictions in effect. Transport, commercial, and social activities generally permitted by the national government may continue.

 


Authorities have reduced measures elsewhere nationwide. Businesses and shops are allowed to reopen if they comply with government-issued health regulations, though local limitations on operating hours apply. Public transport services have partially resumed; bus services for long-distance routes and Dhaka are operating at reduced capacity and are implementing social distancing measures. Rail services have also resumed as of June 26, albeit with reduced capacity and social distancing. Domestic flights partially resumed June 1 and are operating on limited routes.

Despite easing measures, the government maintains a nightly 2000-0600 curfew nationwide and advises residents to remain within their homes as much as possible. Authorities are continuing to impose gathering restrictions, especially in Red Zones. The government will periodically review the restrictions and determine if a further relaxation or reimposition of COVID-19 measures is warranted.

Sporadic clashes are possible if any group attempts to enforce business closures or defy official orders such as capacity limits on congregational prayers. Labor demonstrations over wage and bonus issues are likely to continue, mainly outside garment factories in cities; tens to hundreds of workers may gather at each protest, prompting localized traffic congestion. Police will likely act quickly and forcefully to control any disruptions or violence.

Travel Restrictions
International commercial flights resumed June 16. Visa-on-arrival services remain suspended until further notice. Authorities require any foreign nationals arriving in Bangladesh to provide a polymerase chain reaction test result (with an English translation) within 72 hours of arrival, indicating that they have tested negative for COVID-19. Arriving passengers must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival. Officials will quarantine inbound travelers with a No Visa Required (NVR) certificate and without a medical certificate for 14 days.

Land border crossings remain closed for passenger transit, though trade is permitted. Reports indicate ground freight transport through the Petrapole-Benapole checkpoint at the border with India's West Bengal State is suspended as of July 3 due to disagreements over trade protocols. Shipping disruptions are possible in the coming days. Trade at all other border points remains functional and limited mostly to essential products.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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