DHAKA: Over 300 Bangladeshis on Saturday returned home from Chinese city Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, on a special aircraft and were quarantined in a facility under military and police vigil, officials said.
State-run Biman Airlines' Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft carrying 312 Bangladeshis, including 12 children and three infants, landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) here in afternoon, Biman spokeswomen Tahera Khondoker said.
Khondoker said 15 crew and four doctors were on board the special flight.
The evacuees were directly escorted to nearby Ashkona Hajj Camp from the airport, where they would have to stay under medical observation for next 14 days as the time is considered as the incubation period of the virus, a Bangladeshi health ministry spokesman said.
According to a report in BD News, seven people suffering from fever were sent to hospital after they arrived from Wuhan.
The death toll in the coronavirus epidemic has soared to 259 with total confirmed cases surging to 11,791 in China amid stepped-up efforts by a number of countries to evacuate their nationals from Hubei province and its capital Wuhan.
The virus emerged in early December and has been traced to a market in Wuhan that sold wild animals.
The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a global emergency on Thursday.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen during a media briefing with Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Friday said the returnees were not sick, "but we don't want to take any risk and they must go through the required medical observations".
Malek urged the returnees' relatives not to gather at the camp in the next 14 days, adding that the Directorate General of Health and Army Medical Core were mobilised to take proper care of the evacuees in line with a treatment protocol prepared with WHO guidelines to manage the situation.
Officials earlier said army troops were called out to guard the camp alongside policemen to enforce the quarantine so the people returned from China could not come in touch with other people.
The evacuees were among estimated 400 Bangladeshis, mostly students, who were stranded in Wuhan.
The governments of the several countries, including India, have chalked up plans to return their nationals under special arrangement from Wuhan.
Air India's jumbo B747 aircraft carrying 211 students, 110 working professionals and three minors, reached New Delhi on Saturday after evacuating 324 Indians from Wuhan.
Another flight of the airline departed for the Chinese city from New Delhi in afternoon.