Bangladesh relieves Chinese vessels from mandatory quarantine

The Port of Chittagong is the busiest seaport in Bangladesh. Credit: Shutterstock

Bangladesh has relieved Chinese vessels and seafarers from the mandatory 14-day quarantine in Chittagong waters before berthing at the port, as the COVID-19 situation in China has improved.

The department of shipping, on 12 July, issued a notification scrapping a previous special bulletin of 6 February 2020, which had mandated the quarantine.

“The special bulletin was prepared to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Bangladesh by ships,” said the order.

“At the time of issuing said special bulletin, China was the source of COVID-19 and the most infected country. So, 14 days quarantine was imposed for ships trading directly between mainland China and Bangladesh,” it said.

It also said because the COVID-19 situation has now improved in China, for the greater interest of uninterrupted business and to reduce transportation cost, the special bulletin for seaport and ships regarding COVID-19 is cancelled.

A senior official at the department of shipping told SAS vessels which sail directly from China need nearly a week to reach Chittagong waters, thus they would need to wait for another week as part of quarantine measure.

He said the measure was taken as part of a precautionary measure as China was the main source of coronavirus spread.

The official said, until now, an onboard screening of crew persons onboard Chinese vessels could not detect the virus. Besides, China itself could contain the spread of the virus in its land.

“We also have taken into consideration the economic impact of a vessel’s one-week extra stay at Chittagong port,” he said, adding it causes delays for importers to get goods delivered with China being the main source of raw materials for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh and China’s bilateral trade is estimated at USD16 billion. Last month, China granted duty-free market access to 97% Bangladeshi goods in its market, which may help enhance Dhaka’s export to China.

Most of the bilateral trade is transported through Chittagong and Mongla port of Bangladesh.