The first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, a local Bangladeshi woman was confirmed to be positive on Tuesday afternoon local time.
The hospital in the town of Cox’s Bazar is around one hour’s drive from sprawling camps which are home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees.
Many of them fled across the border to Bangladesh to escape violence in neighboring Myanmar. Currently, no coronavirus cases have been identified among Rohingya refugees, Louise Donovan, communications officer for UNHCR, told CNN Wednesday.
“The health and well-being of refugees is our top priority,” Donovan said.
“While there are currently no suspected cases of Covid-19 in the camps, UNHCR takes the situation very seriously and is closely monitoring.”
On Tuesday, the Bangladeshi government confirmed that most services in the refugee camps would be suspended, in an attempt to prevent an outbreak of the virus.
Mahbub Alam Talukder, the refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, confirmed to CNN that non-essential activities would stop, including educational programs and other advocacy work carried out by NGOs.
However, emergency work would continue. Nay San Lwin, a Europe-based Rohingya activist, said that markets in the camps had been closed, making it hard for the families to gather supplies.
“As markets are ordered to close, prices go up,” Nayheld CNN. “Refugees are really worrying, but helpless.”
All people entering and exiting the camps are now being closely controlled, Talukder said.
They have 47 beds ready and 342 beds on standby for potential coronavirus patients.
Talukder added that a Rohingya family of four from Australia — who came to visit their relatives in one of the refugee camps — was put in quarantine under UNHCR supervision.
Donovan said hygiene measures, communication and staff training have all been increased inside the camps, and planning is underway for additional medical facilities.
“There is an extremely limited capacity in Cox’s Bazar district to provide intensive care treatment for any medical condition, such as Covid-19,” Donovan said.
“However, efforts are currently being employed to expand the existing treatment capacities, including higher levels of treatment in the camps.”
Bangladesh currently has 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus, four of whom have died, data from the Johns Hopkins University shows. Myanmar confirmed its first two cases on Tuesday, imported from the UK and US, state-run
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