First coronavirus case reported from Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh

  • Words by Sanjay Jha, ITV News, Delhi

Two residents of world’s largest refugee camp for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have tested positive for coronavirus, officials said on Thursday.

“They have been kept in the isolation units of the International Organisation of Migration and the Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders” said Mahbub Alam Talukder, the refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner.

“Their families will also be put into quarantine”, he added.

Internet and mobile phone restrictions in the camp have led to a lack of sufficient and accurate information about the virus and how to protect yourself from disease spread.

This incident has alarmed the aid groups working in the densely populated camps, home to more than a million refugees from Myanmar and most of them live in the camps in Cox’s Bazar.

“Health facilities are already crowded and overwhelmed, without the sufficient equipment, health staff or physical space necessary to treat cases.

"The population shares water and hygiene facilities such as toilets, bathing facilities and water points, resulting in long queues and unavoidable unsanitary conditions” said Manish Agrawal, Bangladesh Country Director at the International Rescue Committee.

There are fears the virus could spread rapidly through the population. Credit: AP

There’s just not enough soap and water nor space for them to follow proper guidance to protect themselves from the disease. Food distributions and markets are also crowded making social distancing a major challenge.

“Established procedures are in place to respond to suspected and confirmed cases of CoVID-19 in the host as well as refugee population of Cox’s Bazar” Louise Donovan, UNHCR Spokesperson in Bangladesh told ITV News.

Testing began in the Cox’s Bazar District at the beginning of April. As of May 14, 108 refugees have been tested.

The camps were put on lockdown along with entire Cox’s Bazar district on Mar 11 after Bangladesh had reported the first coronavirus cases. Credit: AP

"Health staff within the camps have been oriented on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), including the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)” Ms Donovan further added.

The camps were put on lockdown along with entire Cox’s Bazar district after Bangladesh had reported the first coronavirus cases.

With total number of Corona positive people in Bangladesh going up to 18000, Bangladesh has already extended lockdown in the country from to 30 March.

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