At least 20 Rohingyas have died and 1,854 have been infected so far, with all 34 camps having confirmed cases
The number of people infected with coronavirus has been on the rise recently in the congested Rohingya camps – the home to nearly a million of the persecuted people from Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The current trend is opposite to what the camps experienced at the outset of the outbreak of the pandemic in Bangladesh, individuals concerned said on Tuesday.
The first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the camps on May 14 last year, two months after the first cases were detected in Dhaka, thanks to the precautionary measures taken by the authorities, they said, adding that things had gone worse in recent times in line with the rest of the country.
“Yes, there are now more cases of Covid-19 among the Rohingyas in the camps than before,” Prof Dr Anupam Barua, principal of Cox’s Bazar Medical College where the tests are done, told Dhaka Tribune.
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“We now get 20-22 cases every day,” he said.
According to another source, there are now confirmed cases in all 34 camps, projecting the severity of the transmission of the deadly virus.
“Although things were really good earlier, we are getting more people infected now,” Mohammad Shamsud Douza, additional refugee relief and repatriation commissioner (RRRC) based in Cox’s Bazar, told Dhaka Tribune.
The office of the RRRC under the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, is responsible for dealing with the Rohingya issue.
“We are doing our best to keep the virus at bay. As part of our precautionary measures, all the camps have been shut down. But, as you know things are getting worse everywhere,” he said.
“So far 49,548 people have been tested. Of them, 1,854 were positive which is roughly 3.6%,” said Shamsud Douza.
“Twenty people, the majority of whom are over 70, have died so far,” he said.
The official also said: “The positivity rate in recent days is higher. For example, there were 16 positive cases among 100 people tested yesterday [Monday].
“At present, there are more than 200 people who are being treated at hospitals and homes,” he said.
No Rohingyas vaccinated yet as government seeks donors’ help
The government has included the entire Rohingya population in the national vaccination program, but no residents of the camps have yet received shots owing to the shortage of jabs.
“We could not start vaccinating the Rohingyas due to the shortage of vaccines. We are trying to procure shots for them,” said Additional RRRC Shamsud Douza.
“We have asked the donors to provide vaccines for the Rohingyas and the host communities,” he said. “We will let you know if there is any development in this regard.”
Bhashan Char still free from Covid-19
There are still no cases of Covid-19 on the Bhashan Char Island in Noakhali district, where about 18,500 Rohingyas were relocated from the camps in Cox’s Bazar.
“As of now, nobody on the Bhashan Char Island has been infected with coronavirus,” Shamsud Douza said.