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Government authorities in Bahrain have recently started moving thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers from their squalid living facilities to makeshift establishments, to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
As of yesterday, at least 97 Bangladeshis have been infected with coronavirus in Bahrain. No Bangladeshi has died of the disease yet there, said mission sources.
Being informed about the initiative, embassy officials helped some 200 to 300 Bangladeshi migrant workers shift to the new facilities in the last couple of days. It is expected many others will follow them, the official said.
In several video clips posted on social media on Tuesday, Bangladesh embassy officials were seen visiting migrant workers’ residences and encouraging them to avail the opportunity.
Around 150,000 Bangladesh nationals are currently living in Bahrain, according to Bangladesh mission there.
Construction sector comprises the biggest share of Bangladeshi workforce, about 70 percent.
Besides, Bangladeshis are also employed in cleaning companies, driving, farms and plantation. Several thousand, both male and female, are also working as domestic aides.
Sheikh Mohammed Tauhidul Islam, labour welfare counsellor at Bangladesh embassy in Manama, said around 2,000 Bangladeshis are in quarantine there until Wednesday.
Asked about the new measure, Tauhidul said due to surge in coronavirus cases, Bahrain authorities are more concerned about its spread within migrant workers’ camps, because they live in congested conditions.
Most of the infected individuals are from the labour accommodations, Tauhidul told this newspaper by phone.
“As per the measure, Bahrain government is not allowing more than five persons to stay in a standard living room. In some cases, 30 Bangladeshi workers share a three-room flat,” he added.
Tauhidul said Bahrain government has created temporary living facilities at school buildings and stadiums.
Beside accommodation, the authorities will arrange food three times a day and provide free wireless internet, he added.
He said Bahrain authorities requested Bangladesh mission to inform Bangladeshi workers to avail the facilities, where they can stay until the situation turns normal.
The initiative started in Manama recently, and will start in other governorates gradually, he added.
In the video clips, a couple of social organisations of Bangladeshi expatriates were seen assisting embassy officials in a campaign to encourage workers.
Asked over phone, a member of one organisation said the opportunity is significant for many Bangladeshis because they are in hardship since their income opportunities have gone due to government imposed shutdown on economic activities.
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