Covid-19 Cases Explode in Rohingya’s Refugee Camps

The condition of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, is very crowded which makes health protocols difficult to implement. As a result, the spread of Covid-19 is easy to happen. As of May 21, 2021, there were 863 positive cases of Covid-19 in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar which forced the authorities to apply lockdown there.

The Rohingyas
The Rohingyas live in densely populated areas. (ACTNews / Shulhan Syamsur Rijal)

ACTNews, COX'S BAZAR – The condition of Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, especially in Cox's Bazar district is uninhabitable. Apart from being only built by tarps, the placement of each shelter is also irregular. There is no distance between one camp to others which caused the refugee camps to become overcrowded.

The health protocol regulated by the Government of Bangladesh has become very difficult to implement there. As a result, the spread of Covid-19 is easy to happen.

On Friday (5/21/2021), A total of 863 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths have so far been reported among the more than a million Rohingya living in 34 camps in Cox’s Bazar district after they fled persecution in neighboring Buddhist-majority Myanmar. This number increased as on Wednesday, “45 Rohingya tested positive for the virus out of 247 tested,” said local health coordinator Toha Bhuiyan. 

The same number also tested positive on Thursday (5/20/2021). “All five camps have been completely closed,” he told the AFP news agency. Law enforcement agencies were asked to strictly monitor the lockdown so that the residents stay indoors. Shops and transportation services in the area will also remain closed.

The government official Shamsud Douza reported the test results on Wednesday and Thursday showed a higher rate of transmission. “The coronavirus spread in the camps has been low since the beginning. But the spike made us take this decision as a preventive step,” said Douza, who works at the government’s Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), as reported by Reuters.

Under the lockdown that took effect on Thursday, residents will not be able to move between different camps and only essential services will operate. “We haven’t decided when we will lift the lockdown,” Douza added.

Douza said aid workers have been restricted in the camps, allowing only a bare minimum of people who work in health, food, and gas distribution to enter.

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, based on data from the World Health Organization or WHO as of Sunday (5/23/2021), there were 787,726 positive cases of Covid-19 followed by 12,348 deaths since the virus began spreading in Bangladesh in March last year. []