[COVID-19 Special] Interview with H.E. Abida Islam
1. How are you and your embassy handling the COVID-19 Situation?
The officials of the Embassy of Bangladesh in Seoul so far remain healthy and have been taking various cautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the Embassy officials.
There are over 16,000 Bangladeshi expatriates living in Korea. The Embassy of Bangladesh has been circulating notices on health advisories and different directives of the Bangladesh Government as well as the Government of the Republic of Korea to them through its website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, including video messages. The hotline number of the Embassy remains activated around the clock to provide any information and service regarding COVID-19. Apart from that, the Embassy has reduced its working hours as a temporary measure. The Embassy is also updating the relevant authorities from the Korean Government regarding the different travel advisories of the Government of Bangladesh on a daily basis.
2. How much impact has the Coronavirus outbreak had thus far in your home country?
In Bangladesh, 20 cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed so far. The infected Bangladeshi nationals had recently arrived from countries like Italy and China. Three patients have recovered and the rest of them are undergoing treatment. There have been two casualties from this virus. Recently, the Government has issued several travel restrictions while traveling to Bangladesh. The visa on arrival has been suspended. A valid visa is mandatory to travel to Bangladesh and all the travelers need to submit a medical/health certificate to this Embassy from within the last 72 hours when applying for a Bangladesh visa and to produce the same document at the entry point in Bangladesh.
3. What are the lessons/views learned from Asia (Public health? Societal? What worked? What did not?)
As far as COVID-19 is concerned, South Korea has been an example of success in its fight against COVID-19. The ROK Government has implemented robust and effective measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. As it appears now, the number of the daily COVID-19 cases has decreased after the sustained escalation of cases a few days ago. In an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the ROK has taken some effective measures. Korea is a leading country in the world in the early detection and the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 because of its modern and sophisticated medical facilities and robust and accessible national health care system. Furthermore, some other initiatives such as-focusing on certain vulnerable groups, the establishment of drive-through testing stations, voluntary social distancing measures, special entry procedures at the airports, a self-diagnosis app, and the constant flow of crucial and clear public information have been instrumental in the recent decrease of infected patients and fatalities.
4. What types of initiatives are you planning to build with Korea when this crisis is over?
Bangladesh has many things to learn from Korea in terms of fighting an epidemic like COVID-19. As Korea is well known for its modern and sophisticated medical facilities and national health care system, we may forge cooperation in the medical sector through the exchange of expertise in medical science and the exchange of technologies. Since Bangladesh is a densely populated country and this kind of the epidemic may turn out to be disastrous for us, we think such cooperation will certainly be helpful for us in tackling any such possible threat that may cause great harm to our people and country.