Bangladesh Country Report
Collapsed international demand for Bangladeshi garments because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic is likely to drive industrial unrest in Bangladesh's vital garment manufacturing sector during the next six months. Strikes are likely in Ashulia, Gazipur, and Savar and can last up to several days, with workers often blocking major highways connecting Dhaka to the rest of the country. Indication of systematic concerns about working conditions at Chinese infrastructure projects would increase the risk of industrial unrest resulting in property damage at Chinese construction sites. Corruption under the current government appears to have increased – local companies associated with the ruling party are likely to be able to influence government policy.
Islamic State-inspired militants have emerged as the primary Islamist threat in Bangladesh, with attacks subsequently having targeted foreigners and religious minorities. Islamic State propaganda released in May 2019 indicates that Bangladesh remains a target for the group, despite disruption to existing cells since 2017. Attacks by domestic militants who have aligned or are seeking alignment with the Islamic State would likely target religious minorities, secularists, security forces, and foreigners, especially in Dhaka. Although militants probably aspire to carry out mass-casualty attacks and suicide bombings, successful attacks will likely remain limited to the use of crude improvised explosive devices and Molotov cocktails.
Burglaries, robbery, theft, and racketeering are common in Bangladesh, while police are dysfunctional and accused of brutality and human rights abuses. However, foreigners are more likely to be pick-pocketed or victims of opportunistic crimes rather than targeted by organised crime groups. The crime rate in Bangladesh is high, with reports of murders increasing on an annual basis in 2018. Other reported violent crimes, including kidnapping, burglary, and theft, increased marginally in the same period.
Full military confrontation between Bangladesh and its two neighbours, India and Myanmar, is unlikely. The Awami League government has historically enjoyed good relations with India – culminating in the resolution of a long-standing border dispute between the two countries in August 2015. The emergence of Rohingya militants operating in Bangladesh and Myanmar's military operations against such groups increases the risk of localised skirmishes; however, these would be unlikely to affect any commercial operations. Bangladesh has also largely resolved its maritime disputes with India and Myanmar, reducing the risk to potential commercial activity in the Bay of Bengal.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Bangladesh. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Cholera: A newly licensed cholera vaccine (Vaxchora) has just been made available and may be prescribed for adults traveling to areas with active cholera transmission. The vaccine prevents severe diarrhea caused by the most common type of cholera bacteria. As the vaccine is not fully effective, hygienic precautions should also be taken (e.g. drinking only bottled water, eating only thoroughly cooked foods, washing hands regularly, etc.).
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Japanese encephalitis: Japanese encephalitis is typically only present in rural areas. Discuss travel plans with your doctor to decide if you need the JE vaccine, which is administered in two doses spaced over a month. The last dose should be administered at least ten days prior to departure for an at-risk area to be fully effective.
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
Bangladesh is vulnerable to natural disasters. Every year, one-third of the country is affected by floods. Over three days in July 2017, heavy rains affected over 900,000 people in northeastern Bangladesh, forcing large-scale evacuations. Deadly landslides and mudslides occur regularly after torrential rains; at least 140 people were killed in mudslides in the south in June 2017.
Cyclones and tropical storms regularly hit coastal regions. The worst occurrence dates to 2007 with Cyclone Sdir, which left 1500 people dead in its wake. Most recently, Cyclone Mora killed seven people after making landfall between the cities of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar, areas regularly affected by rains and floods.
Thunderstorms are very dangerous in Bangladesh; for example, 22 people were killed by lightning strikes within a two-day period in June 2017.
Foreign visitors should note that Bangladesh is a developing country and that infrastructure - particularly roads - is in poor condition. Furthermore, public transportation is not very reliable or safe and is best avoided.
Prolonged power outages are common in the summer, a period of intense heat on the subcontinent. Outages often provoke violent protests by angry residents.
The climate in Bangladesh ranges from subtropical to tropical, with a dry and relatively cool season (lows of 21°C) extending from November to February and a rainy season from April to October. The monsoon affects the country between June and September and causes numerous floods. There is a risk of cyclones between May and June and again from October until November. From March to May, the country experiences very high temperatures (35°C) and high levels of humidity, as well as frequent violent thunderstorms.
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