No coronavirus among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: WHO

No coronavirus among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: WHO
No coronavirus among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: WHO

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - DHAKA: No coronavirus cases have been reported among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh despite overcrowding at their camps in Cox’s Bazar, World Health Organization (WHO) officials in Dhaka told Arab News.

More than a million Rohingya refugees are living in 34 camps in Cox’s Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh.

Most of them fled neighboring Myanmar following a brutal military crackdown in August 2017. 

Although the camps are cramped with limited access to clean water, no coronavirus cases have been reported among refugees or aid workers tending to them, and no one has been quarantined, WHO officials said. Emergency preparedness measures in Cox’s Bazar have been in place for several weeks.

“There’s a global shortage of supplies for coronavirus preparedness and response,” WHO Bangladesh spokesman Catalin Bercaru told Arab News.

“Coordination among partners is underway on having supplies stocked to be made available as and when required.”

Besides emergency medical teams, more than 100 national and international partners are supporting the health sector in Cox’s Bazar, Bercaru said.

Health officials are ready to immediately isolate people showing coronavirus symptoms, said Louise Donovan, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman in Cox’s Bazar.

“If a person is believed to have contracted coronavirus, they’ll be kept in an isolated area until they can be safely transported to a designated isolation unit in a pre-identified facility,” she told Arab News.

Aid agencies have been raising awareness among members of the Rohingya community about personal and food hygiene measures to avoid infection.

“More than 1,400 refugee community health volunteers work within the camps to ensure key messages are shared regularly with the refugee population. These include systematic health prevention and promotion messages,” Donovan said.

“More than 400 protection community outreach workers will also support message dissemination, as well as other volunteers and community leaders.”

Donovan said communication is ongoing through radio, volunteers and community leaders. So far, eight people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Bangladesh, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.

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