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An aircraft carrying 278 Bangladeshi passengers from Lebanon was circling the sky for about an hour, not having permission to land. It finally got permission and landed.

Under a programme for voluntary return, some 278 Bangladeshis had returned home by a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines on Sunday night. At noon, Monday, they were taken into quarantine.

Yet in keeping with the government directives to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Civil Aviation Authorities of Bangladesh (CAAB) had issued restrictions on passenger flights from Europe and 12 other countries including Lebanon.

With the incidence of coronavirus on an alarming rise, on 3 April CAAB banned passenger flights from Europe and the 12 countries. Lebanon was listed among these 12 countries. This ban is in effect from 3 to 18 April.

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The Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport authorities said it was compulsory for the passengers returning from Lebanon to be quarantined. However, their relatives on Monday began demonstrating at the airport against the quarantine.

The passengers then joined them in the protest. This created a disruption at the airport at around 10:30am and the relatives of the passengers began pushing and shoving the Terminal 1 arrivals gate, shouting out anti-quarantine slogans. The passengers also began shouting that they would not go into quarantine.

Director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Group Captain AHM Touhid-Ul Ahsan told Prothom Alo, the aircraft was not even supposed to land in the country, in accordance to the government restrictions. It was finally allowed to land as it was on a special consideration. In consideration of the state of coronavirus in Lebanon, the flight was allowed to land. The passengers would be sent to institutional quarantine. He said, the relatives of the passengers had demonstrated outside of the airport and had damaged property.

The airport authorities said, the flight which arrived from Lebanon on Sunday night initially had not been given permission to land. But at the behest of the embassy, the flight was later permitted to land on humanitarian grounds.

The airlines had not informed the airport authorities or the embassy or the foreign ministry about the flight beforehand. After circling the sky for about an hour, the flight finally got permission to land. The airport health personnel were not present there at the time. At around 7:00am Monday morning the passengers underwent health tests and were later taken into quarantine.

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