Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Bangladesh extends COVID-19-related measures through at least May 30. Restrictions eased for businesses; flight restrictions continue.

This alert affects Bangladesh

This alert began 14 May 2020 07:32 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, increased security; possible clashes

Authorities in Bangladesh are extending nationwide measures through at least 2359 May 30 to control the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials indicated they would enforce strict nationwide movement restrictions in the lead up to, during, and immediately after Eid-al-Fitr celebrations, occurring either May 24 or 25, based on the lunar sighting. Authorities are likely to announce details of the holiday measures in the coming days.

Residents are to remain within their homes as much as possible, in addition to following a nightly curfew 2200-0600. Domestic transport restrictions prohibiting the movement of long-distance bus, ferry, and train services and private vehicles continue, except for essential purposes. A ban on all social and public gatherings, as well as the closure of public spaces, such as educational institutions, tourist attractions, public squares, and entertainment venues, will remain in effect during the period. Violators of the order could face legal sanctions.

Further movement controls prohibiting individuals from leaving their neighborhoods remain in place across most districts in Bangladesh; affected locations include urban centers such as Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chittagong, and Cox's Bazar. Officials have set up checkpoints at entrances and exits to affected areas, only allowing essential personnel in or out. Workers of garment factories and other authorized industries may enter Dhaka with permits. Authorities may impose further movement restrictions in more locations in the coming days if the number of COVID-19 cases increases.

Officials will allow nonessential businesses and markets, including shopping malls, to reopen until 1700 daily ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday. However, owners must maintain social distancing measures and other health precautions for employees and shoppers. The government previously allowed mosques to reopen May 7 but has limited capacity to five worshipers at a time and 10 worshipers for Friday prayers. Government offices and essential businesses continue to operate with limited capacity for reduced hours.

Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas. 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

As of May 14, land border crossings remain closed for passenger transit, though trade is permitted. Reports indicate disruptions to ground freight transport at the border with India's West Bengal State, mainly at the Petrapole-Benapole checkpoint, where thousands of trucks remain stranded due to state-specific preventive measures. Trains are carrying essential goods into West Bengal State instead. Trade at all other border points remains functional and limited mostly to essential goods.

Officials have extended a ban on domestic and international commercial flights, except those between Bangladesh and mainland China, through at least May 16; further extensions are likely. However, international cargo, medical, and humanitarian flights continue to operate. Visa-on-arrival services also remain suspended until further notice. Authorities are requiring any foreign nationals arriving in Bangladesh to provide a medical certificate (with an English translation) within 72 hours of arrival, indicating that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. 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.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

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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