Mounting on the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, first coronavirus infection has been confirmed in the congested Rohingya camps in Bangladesh. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement on May 14 that one person living in refugee camps at Cox’s Bazaar has contracted the disease along with a Bangladeshi citizen in the surrounding areas has also tested positive of the novel coronavirus. According to the UNHCR statement, both persons are in isolation and health professionals are working to trace their contacts and potential COVID-19 cases.
One Rohingya refugee has tested positive for COVID19 in the Kutapalong refugee settlement in Bangladesh. In addition, one member of the local host community has also tested positive at the same facility.— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) May 14, 2020
Both patients are in isolation and contact tracing is underway.
Meanwhile, till now Bangladesh has confirmed at least 18,863 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and at least 283 deaths. The camps at Cox’s Bazaar are home to nearly a million Rohingya refugees including many who had fled the violence in neighbouring Myanmar. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Bangladeshi government had suspended most of the services inside the camps such as educational programs and other work related to advocacy since late March. A senior advocate for human rights with the US-based organization Refugees International, Daniel P Sullivan has called the discovery of positive COVID-19 case in camps as a “nightmare scenario”.
“The first positive case of #COVID-19 in the #Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh is the realization of a nightmare scenario..Maintaining communications restrictions at this critical time will only unnecessarily further restrain" response efforts https://t.co/3kPrilHSwr— Daniel P Sullivan (@EndGenocideDan) May 14, 2020
On behalf of Refugees International, Sullivan has called for “swift action” from both the UN agencies working in the area along with the Bangladesh government because the underlying health conditions in the camps are looming. Owing to the monsoon and flooding season even the sanitary arrangements are deteriorating for Rohingyas. Sullivan has also urged the government to lift restrictions on phone and internet in the area that are halting communications and fueling misinformation and rumours.