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Coronavirus: Critical services only in Rohingya camps since Wednesday

  • Published at 03:35 pm March 24th, 2020
File photo of Rohingyas at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) in Cox’s Bazar Mahbub Alam Talukder confirmed the development

All activities, except for emergency services, will be suspended at all 34 Rohingya camps of Cox’s Bazar from Wednesday in a bid to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) till Tuesday confirmed a total of 39 coronavirus cases in the country.

Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus, so far has killed more than 16,500 people in over 190 countries and territories including four from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) in Cox’s Bazar Mahbub Alam Talukder confirmed the development to Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.

He said: "All activities will be suspended in every camp from tomorrow [Wednesday]. However, emergency services with respect to food, health, and medicine will continue as usual. 

"All gatherings, including religious ones, will be barred. We have also asked the camp residents to pray at home rather than in mosques."

RRRC Talukder, the top government official on the ground in relation to the Rohingya crisis, also said: "Schools and madrasas will also remain closed. 

"The message is very clear; always stay at home for the security of yourself and others." 

RRRC Talukder also said that apart from those involved with emergency services, no one would be allowed to go out of the camps and come in.

"We have also decided not to allow any new foreigner to enter the camp. This will not be applicable to those who had been working here before the beginning of the crisis," he added.

Earlier in the day, the government decided to suspend all public road transport from March 26 till April 4, confirmed Road, Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader in a video message.

Moreover, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) also suspended all passenger launch services across the country while Bangladesh Railway Authority suspended all local, commuter, and mail train services to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

On Monday, Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), the coordinating body of humanitarian organizations, including UN agencies, working in relation to the Rohingya crisis, informed that lack of testing facilities, ICU beds and skilled medical professionals in both the Rohingya camps and the Cox’s Bazar district are posing a major challenge in preventing the coronavirus infection in the refugee settlements.

Meanwhile, four members of a Rohingya family were quarantined after they had arrived in Leda Rohingya Camp No 24 in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf upazila.

According to officials, they had illegally entered Bangladesh from Hyderabad, India, during the early hours of Monday.

There are two children among those who have been quarantined at an International Organization for Migration (IOM) operated hospital there, according to Teknaf Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Saiful Islam.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district and most of them entered Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdown in Rakhine State of Myanmar against Rohingyas.

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