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It was on 18 March last year that the first report of a Bangladeshi dying abroad of coronavirus appeared. That was in the US. Coincidentally, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) also reported the first detected corona death in Bangladesh on the same day.

According to officials of Bangladesh’s embassies in 6 countries of the Middle East, 1,228 Bangladesh have died of coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, 265 in UAE, 107 in Kuwait, 70 in Oman, 35 in Qatar and 31 in Bahrain. They said with the spread of coronavirus increase again in the Middle East countries, fresh restrictions have been imposed.

Bangladesh’s ambassador to Jordan, Nahida Sobhan, speaking to Prothom Alo on Friday evening, said that there have been restrictions on movement from evening till morning due to the increase in the coronavirus transmission. These restrictions will stay in place till Eid-ul Fitr. She said that so far 15 Bangladeshis had died of corona in Jordan.

Diplomatic sources said that 445 Bangladeshis have died of coronavirus in the US, 412 in the UK, 35 in Italy, 30 in South Africa, 15 in Lebanon, 9 in Canada, 8 in Sweden, 7 in France, 7 in Spain, 3 in Belgium, 2 in Portugal and one each in India, Maldives, Kenya, Libya and Gambia. Most of the expatriates who died of coronavirus in the UK and the US are nationals of Bangladeshi origin.

In the meantime, in view of the spike in coronavirus, a corona cell has been created in the foreign ministry in Dhaka to assist Bangladeshi expatriates working overseas. The cell has been formed basically to protect the jobs of the migrant workers and to coordinate diplomatic initiatives for their welfare. The cell is also helping in sending back foreign nationals who are stranded in Bangladesh and also bringing back Bangladeshis stranded in various countries.

Bangladesh’s ambassador in Italy, Shameem Ahsan, told Prothom Alo that as Italy’s health system is quite developed, the local authorities are ensuring the healthcare of the expatriate workers there. The Italian government is taking care of their vaccinations and hospital treatment.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir

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