By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - At least 207 Bangladeshis who went to India mainly for medical treatment and business purposes have returned home after being stranded amid lockdown across the border.
"Since Friday until Sunday morning we have received our 207 nationals. After preliminary health checkup inside the port, we returned them to the local administration for home quarantine," Bishwajit Sarkar, the officer in charge of the southwestern Bhomra border gate, told Anadolu Agency.
Adding that the government had ordered the gate in the southwestern district of Satkhira district remain open, Sarkar said: "But, whenever our nationals come here from any country, our port [border gate] medical team checks them thoroughly and issues a health clearance. Then, under the supervision of the local civil administration, they are sent to home quarantine or in any particular case to the hospital for closer observation."
The Bangladeshi returnees also said they did not face any trouble at the gate, but rather had a difficult time reaching it.
"Due to the coronavirus pandemic, India is almost fully locked down, and many Bangladeshis are stranded in different parts of the country. They can't reach to the border port," Monirul Islam Faruki, a Bangladeshi returnee from India, told Anadolu Agency.
Faruki added that like all other returnees, he was in home quarantine. "Until now, I am fine and feel no problem," he said.
Meanwhile, the Indian immigration department at the border did not allow their nationals in Bangladesh to return.
Many Indian nationals have come to the border over the past few days to get to their homes in India. "But, Indian immigration police did not allow them," Sarker added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a 21-day countrywide lockdown starting March 24 to stem the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country. Bangladesh also declared a 10-day shutdown from March 26.
According to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University, India so far has 987 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 25 deaths, while the death tally in Bangladesh is five and infections number at 48.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China in December, the virus has spread to at least 177 countries and regions, the data shows.
More than 684,600 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll surpassing 32,100 and over 145,600 recoveries.