Dhaka, May 15 (IANS) Bangladesh has confirmed the first coronavirus case among the Rohingya refugees after managing to keeping the crowded camps in the south of the country free from the disease for weeks.
“Today we have found two cases in the refugee camp area. One of them is a refugee: a man in his 30s. We are trying to confirm the identity of the other person,” Mahbubur Rahman, the health chief of Bangladesh’s southern Cox’s Bazar district, told Efe news on Thursday.
Rahman said that authorities had already made the necessary preparations to face a potential COVID-19 outbreak among the refugees living in camps in the country.
“We have 200 isolation beds ready for the refugees and other preparations also have been taken. We will now take the infected refugee to an isolation facility in the camp,” he said.
Quoting Bangladesh authorities, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that the second infected person belonged to the community in the area.
Both had presented themselves to health facilities run by the agency’s humanitarian partners in the Ukhiya region, where samples were taken, Louise Donovan, a UNHCR spokesperson in Cox’s Bazar, told Efe news.
She added that following the lab confirmation of the virus, rapid investigation teams have been activated to investigate cases, initiate isolation and treatment of patients as well as contact tracing.
“Established procedures are in place to respond to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the host as well as refugee population of Cox’s Bazar,” Donovan said.
Nearly 738,000 Rohingya refugees have been living in camps in Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, following a wave of persecution and violence in Myanmar that the UN has described as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing and possible genocide.
The UNHCR said that 108 refugees have been tested for the coronavirus so far since the beginning of the process in the Cox’s Bazar district in April.
The camps have already witnessed outbreaks of diseases such as measles and diphtheria on earlier occasions, as per data provided by the Netherlands-based non-profit Medicines Sans Frontiers.
Bangladesh on Thursday reported 1,041 new COVID-19 positive cases within the last 24 hours, taking the total number of patients to 18,863.
The country also reported 14 deaths during the period, pushing the death toll to 283 as the government extended the ongoing lockdown measures until May 30.