The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has requested the print and electronic media in Bangladesh not to publish any news that may impact the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Italy without due diligence.
MoFA said the fact is that the Italian Prime Minister never mentioned the word “virus bombs” indicating any community during his interview with the Spanish TV Channel.
The news was published in some newspapers in Bangladesh "wrongly quoting" the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) of the Italian Republic.
The newspapers have misquoted Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy, as saying that Bangladeshis are “virus bombs”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised that the Prime Minister of Italy never said any such thing about Bangladeshis.
While running any news that may have negative impact on bilateral relations, including on the Bangladeshi expatriate community, the media is urged to check the authenticity of the news.
The Foreign Ministry also requested the print and electronic media to create awareness among Bangladeshi diaspora all over the world, including the passengers departing from Bangladesh, for their sympathetic understanding of the local situations, and for adherence to the rules and regulations of the local government.
While covering the news on COVID-19, some Italian newspapers carried that of COVID-19 among the Bangladesh expatriate community members in Italy.
Also read: Govt facilitated repatriation of 4,422 foreigners from Bangladesh: MoFA
The attitude of defiance by some members of the Bangladesh community in Italy has been portrayed in the Italian newspapers, and this may create mistrust or discontent among the Italian population against Bangladeshis in Italy. One newspaper even published the news under the headline of Bangladeshi ‘virus bombs’.
While talking to a Spanish TV channel during his recent visit to Madrid, Prime Minister Conte mentioned that in the recent flights from Bangladesh there were up to 20 percent passengers in a single flight who tested COVID-19 positive after arriving at the Rome airport.
In order to ensure that Italy does not go through the difficult situation of COVID-19 again, Prime Minister Conte said Italy was forced to stop flights from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is not the only country in that list. Italy has stopped flights from 12 other countries of the world, and the decision will be reviewed on 14 July 2020.
The longstanding relationship between Bangladesh and Italy has been based on mutual trust and respect, MoFA mentioned.
At the invitation of the Prime Minister of Italy, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid a bilateral visit to Italy in February this year, and the two Prime Ministers had a very productive and fruitful bilateral official meeting.
More than 150,000 Bangladeshis live in Italy, and their contributions to the economies of both Bangladesh and Italy are gratefully acknowledged.
"It needs to be noted that when many countries of the world are strongly following anti-immigrant practices, including sending back retrenched migrant workers to their home countries, the Italian government, as part of their economy revival plan, has decided to regularise many immigrants with irregular status," MoFA said.
The Italian government has shown extraordinary flexibility and generosity to accept Bangladeshis with Italian residence permits even at the time when Bangladesh has not yet completely recovered from COVID-19 virus.
In the last one month, Biman Bangladesh Airlines operated six special chartered flights to Rome, where around 1,600 Bangladeshis with Italian residence permits (or in some cases, with Italian passports) travelled.
The Foreign Ministry acknowledges with deep appreciation the support provided by the Embassy of Italy in Dhaka in this regard.
The Italian diplomats based in Dhaka went out of the way to help the Bangladeshis with Italian residence permits to make their journey to and arrival in Rome without hassles.
Unfortunately, MoFA said, after arrival in Rome airport, when the incoming passengers were tested for COVID-19, around 70-75 Bangladeshis tested positive.
Besides, the Italian Health Ministry, while testing the members of Bangladesh community in and around Rome, found another 20-25 people infected with Coronavirus.
The Italian government has taken all due steps to provide necessary supports to these approximately 100 Bangladeshis. Most of them have been kept in a hotel for the period of isolation at the expense of the Italian government, and those who need hospitalisation have duly been admitted to hospitals, again arranged by the government of Italy.
Regrettably, MoFA said, some members of the Bangladesh community in Italy who tested positive for COVID-19 are not respectful to the decision of the Italian government, and are ignoring the quarantine and isolation guidelines and instructions of the Italian government.
They are defying the restrictions of the Italian government and thus putting the entire community at risk of infection of the virus.
A group of Bangladeshis who returned to Bangladesh from Italy in March last also behaved in similar irresponsible manner and refused to follow quarantine procedures under various pretexts and now they also violated the Italian quarantine procedures creating ill-feeling among members of the public.
The attitude of defiance by some members of the Bangladesh community in Italy has been portrayed in Italian newspapers, and this may create mistrust or discontent among the Italian population against Bangladeshis in Italy, MoFA added.