Bangladesh imposes week-long air travel ban after surge in infections

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(dpa) – Bangladesh has announced plans to ban all international and domestic flights for a week from Wednesday, coinciding with yet another lockdown to counter a spike in novel coronavirus infections.

All international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh will remain suspended from April 14 to 20, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) said on Sunday.

More than 500 flights will be cancelled because of the ban, said the CAAB’s Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman. Bangladeshi airports have now been operating an average of 70 to 75 flights per day, he said.

Domestic passenger flights and chartered helicopter flights are among those to be suspended, while some exceptions may be made for medical evacuations, humanitarian relief and cargo flights, the aviation authority said.

A surge in Covid-19 cases since March prompted the government to enforce a nine-day nationwide shutdown until Tuesday, to be followed by yet another seven-day lockdown from Wednesday to slow the spread of the virus.

The authorities imposed a ban on air passengers from Europe and 12 other countries on April 3. Passenger flight operations on domestic routes were suspended on April 5.

Bangladesh, which reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus last March, reported its highest single-day increase in infections on Friday, with 7,462 cases. So far, the country has reported some 684,756 cases and 9,739 deaths.

Bangladesh previously imposed a nationwide shutdown for more than two months, from March 26, 2020 until May

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