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Outbound workers get sick on flight

UAE, Qatar embassies voice concern

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 6 January, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Outbound workers are becoming sick on their way to workplaces in the Middle East due to a prolonged stay at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) and consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks from roadside restaurants adjacent to the airport.

The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar embassies recently sent formal letters to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) informing them about the matter.

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said, “Most of the migrant workers come from districts long before the flight for various reasons including corona test. There may be some problem with the food they eat on the way or after coming to Dhaka.

“Even on arrival at the airport, many people eat at nearby restaurants, which in many cases are not healthy. Problems may arise from anywhere. Steps have been taken to make people aware in this regard.”

The UAE-bound workers need to undergo a coronavirus test at the airport six hours before the departure. Besides,   

they require waiting in long queues while entering the airport, passing immigration and collecting boarding cards.

Most of the workers arrive at the airport 10-12 hours before departure, fearing that they will not be able to catch the flight. As a result, they are being forced to take unhealthy food and drinks.

Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the workers who left for the Middle East are suffering from diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and cholera.

Several workers are falling ill on the plane. Many are getting sick even after going to the destination or joining work.

According to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, despite the coronavirus outbreak, the demand for Bangladeshi workers in Middle Eastern countries is rising. Among the South Asian countries, the demand for Bangladeshi workers is now the highest abroad.

Officials of the ministry said that this sudden illness of Bangladeshi workers is not a good sign. They said if such trend continues it would affect the country’s labour market.

“Bangladeshi workers bound to the UAE and Qatar is more prone to getting sick. The embassies of the two countries have recently sent letters to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s a matter of concern,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

“Countries in the Middle East are very afraid of tuberculosis and cholera. There are signs of cholera among the workers,” the official said, adding that if these signs are seen more, they may close the labour market temporarily.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed the ministries and offices concerned of the matter after receiving the letters from the UAE and Qatar.

A meeting has already been held under the leadership of the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. Some instructions have been given to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC).

According to the meeting, germs could be spread from water of residential hotels and restaurants around the airport. DGHS has been asked to collect water sample from hotels and restaurants around the airport and DNCC has been directed to conduct drives to ensure cleanliness there.

Bangladesh sent 617,209 workers overseas in 2021. Of them, 29,202 people went to the UAE and 11,158 to Qatar.