06/04/2020, 15.26
BANGLADESH
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The first Rohingya refugee dies from the coronavirus

by Sumon Corraya

On 14 May, the first cases of infection were reported among the Rohingya in the Lambashia camp, Cox’s Bazar. Steps have been taken to prevent the spread of the virus among the 34 Rohingya refugee camps. Three camps, housing 15,000 people (3,600 families), are in lockdown.

Cox’s Bazar (AsiaNews) – The first Rohingya refugee, a 71-year-old man, died of the coronavirus in a camp in Cox’s Bazar last Sunday, but the death was reported by the media only yesterday.

At present, 29 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are infected in Bangladesh, home to over 1.1 million Rohingya distributed among 34 camps. Many of them entered the country after 25 August 2017.

The first coronavirus cases among Rohingya were reported in the Lambashia camp in Cox’s Bazar on 14 May, followed by the first measures to prevent the infection from spreading among the various camps.

Three camps, holding 15,000 people (3,600 families), have been locked down. The Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner's Office (RRRC) is providing them with food and medical aid.

“A total of 71 Rohingya refugees are at home with coronavirus symptoms. We collected samples on May 30th and sent them to the Cox's Bazar Medical College,” said RRRC Chief Health Coordinator Abu Toha M.R. Bhuiyan. “.”

“A 71-year-old Rohingya man died and was buried that same day,” he added. “We subsequently locked down his nine-member family. We also collected their samples and sent them for the coronavirus test.”

The coordinator explained that around 15,000 refugees were quarantined last week as the number of cases increased. Face masks and hand sanitisers were provided for free to the camps.

“I believe deaths among the Rohingya will increase, because the camps are densely populated,” Christian Rohingy Saiful Islam Peter told AsiaNews. “We live in fear of being infected with this virus.”

Some NGOs have handed out masks and hand sanitisers but these are not enough, he noted. But many Rohingya do not realise the danger of the virus and refuse to follow health rules because they are uneducated.

Caritas Bangladesh has been helping the Rohingya, providing basics like food, medicine and education through its emergency response programmes.

Following the first reports of coronavirus cases in Bangladesh, the Catholic charity got involved in raising awareness among the refugees about this deadly virus, distributing Burmese-language leaflets, face masks and hand sanitisers.

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