Over 500 Bangladeshi citizens are trapped in Wuhan in China's Hubei province as the country has locked down the city at the centre of the new coronavirus outbreak which has already claimed more than 40 lives.
The Bangladeshis, mostly students, who got in touch with the Bangladesh mission in Beijing to come back, have been told: "it was not possible due to the shutdown of airports in China."
So far, no Bangladeshi has been affected by the virus but they are facing food shortage in Wuhan due to snap of bus, train or air link from the other parts of the country, according to Bangladeshis enrolled in different Wuhan universities.
They claimed that embassies of other countries are in touch with their citizens but nobody from the Dhaka mission contacted them.
“About 200 Bangladeshis study in this university and about 70 of them are out of campus for winter vacation. We are trapped but getting full support from the university. I am not aware of any coronavirus case involving Bangladeshi citizens but due to the lockdown we are short in supply of food,” said Rakibul Turjo, an engineering student at the Hubei University of Technology.
The virus outbreak has left foreign students panicked, he told Bangla Tribune. “Indians and Sri Lankans have told us that they would be sent back after medical check-ups, but the Bangladesh embassy is yet to contact us. We cannot leave even if we want to.”
Shops in the Wuhan are closed and residents are not allowed to leave their homes, according to Habibur Rahman, who goes at the same university. "It seems like a haunted city. We want to leave as soon as possible but nobody from the embassy contacted us.”
The Bangladesh embassy in Beijing, however, says they were in "in touch" with citizens in Wuhan and were closely watching the situation.
"No Bangladeshi has so far been affected. The mission cannot send out any of its personnel to Wuhan as the government has locked down the city... we are aware of the life supply shortages and already requested the Chinese government to look into it," Deputy Chief of Mission Masudur Rahman told Bangla Tribune.
According to him, the mission can't do "whatever we want due to certain restrictions imposed by the government".
"It all depends on them [Chinese authorities]. We are constantly updating Dhaka about the developments. But, at this moment we cannot evacuate anyone as China has shut down airports.”