COVID-19 Identified in Rohingya Refugee Camp

This week, a Rohingya refugee, along with a patient from the host population, have both tested positive for COVID-19. The two individuals were placed in isolation centers. The refugee camps, which are extremely densely populated, are concerning in terms of how quickly a virus such as the coronavirus could spread. It would be a humanitarian disaster if the disease spread rapidly through the camp.

 A Rohingya refugee walks at a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019 (Source: REUTERS).

Bangladesh has seen an increase in coronavirus cases in the past couple days. Currently, there are 18,863 cases of COVID-19 and 283 deaths. There are only 2000 ventilators in Bangladesh with a population of around 160 million people. The camp alone includes 1 million people and there are no intensive care beds if needed. Additionally, the camps do not have enough soap and water to maintain proper hygiene to protect themselves from the virus.

The densely populated camp is more susceptible to catastrophic outcomes if the virus was to spread rapidly throughout. To combat this, it would require access to healthcare, improved sanitation, isolating cases, and spreading people out so they are not so close to each other.

More than 730,000 Rohingya arrived from Myanmar in 2017 after fleeing a military crackdown. Read more at Reuters.