A Bangladesh woman has been tested positive of deadly coronavirus near Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar on March 25 marking the first case from the area. Moreover, the hospital in the town of Cox’s Bazar is at least an hour’s drive away from the sprawling camps which currently houses more than one million Muslim minority refugees who had fled from Myanmar in the face of ‘genocide’. An official from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Louise Donovan told an international media outlet that no case of fatal COVID-19 has been confirmed among Rohingyas, yet.
The official also acknowledged that the health and well-being of the refugees at world's largest refugee camp is their organisation’s top priority and assured that UNHCR is closely monitoring the situation ‘very seriously’. Just on March 20, the Bangladesh government had announced the suspension of most services from the refugee camps as a precautionary measure against the drastic spread of coronavirus.
The refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, Mahbub Alam Talukder to an international media outlet that all non-essential activities would stop including the educational programs and other advocacy work carried out by the organisations. However, emergency work would continue. But, reportedly, since the markets in the camps are closed, it has become harder for people to get supplies. A Europe-based Rohingya activist also reportedly said that an increase in demand has also led to prices being hiked making Rohingyas feel ‘helpless’.
According to reports, all people who are entering or exiting the camps are being closely monitored and controlled. Moreover, for potential coronavirus patients, 47 beds have been readied and at least 342 beds have been kept on standby. The UNHCR official had also said that the hygiene measures, communication and staff training have been increased inside the refugee’s camps and planning for a medical facility is underway. Currently, Bangladesh has confirmed 39 cases of COVID-19 and 4 fatalities due to the virus disease.