Unicef building coronavirus treatment centre in world's largest refugee camp
The UN agency is building a 210-bed isolation and treatment centre in Bangladesh Cox's Bazar. One of the confirmed cases was a Rohingya refugee, while the other was a Bangladeshi citizen who lives in the area surrounding the camps.
Unicef is building a 210-bed isolation and treatment centre in Bangladesh Cox's Bazar -- home to the world's biggest refugee camp -- after two people there tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The camps in southern Bangladesh are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees who escaped violence and persecution in neighboring Myanmar. Humanitarian groups have warned that the infection could devastate the crowded settlements.
One of the confirmed cases was a Rohingya refugee, while the other was a Bangladeshi citizen who lives in the area surrounding the camps, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had said in a statement.
Health officials have now begun to treat both patients while isolating and testing other refugees in the camps, the agency said.
Bangladesh has more than 20,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 298 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The Bangladeshi government suspended most of the services within the densely populated camps in late March, including educational programs and other advocacy work.
Earlier, aid workers warned of a potential humanitarian disaster if there is a significant outbreak in the refugee camps outside Cox's Bazar.
Daniel P. Sullivan, a senior advocate for human rights with the US-based organization Refugees International, called COVID-19 detection in the Rohingya refugee camps as “a nightmare”.
“The first positive case of COVID-19 in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh is the realization of a nightmare scenario,” he said. In addition, the prevalence of underlying health conditions among refugees and the deteriorating sanitary conditions sure to come with the looming monsoon and flooding season make for a witch’s brew of conditions in which the virus is sure to thrive.
Dr Shamim Jahan -- Save the Children's Health Director in Bangladesh -- said in a statement that healthcare capacity in the country had already been overwhelmed by the virus.
"Now that the virus has entered the world's largest refugee settlement in Cox's Bazar we are looking at the very real prospect that thousands of people may die from COVID-19. This pandemic could set Bangladesh back by decades," he added.