Bangladesh reinforces virus lockdown on Rohingya camps

The sun rises as thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar a day before wait by the road where they spent the night between refugee camps, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 10, 2017. (REUTERS)
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Updated 07 June 2020

Bangladesh reinforces virus lockdown on Rohingya camps

  • Infection spike prompts tough measures as country’s death toll reaches 846

DHAKA: Authorities in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, which is home to more than 1 million Rohingya refugees, reinforced a two-week lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Saturday.

The disease has killed 846 people in Bangladesh and the total number of infections as of Saturday was 63,026, with 29 people testing positive for the virus and one death reported at the refugee camps.
“In the past couple of days we have noticed a sudden boom in the virus infection rate in the district, which prompted us to reinforce a very strict lockdown again,” Shajahan Ali, additional district magistrate of Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News. He said that the doubling down would include dividing the area into different parts, with no entry allowed in the “red zone.”
“To make the lockdown truly effective vehicles’ movements will be restricted. People from outside Cox’s Bazar will not be allowed to enter the city. Kitchen markets will remain open for several hours only on Sundays and Thursdays. Banks will also follow the same,” he added.
Overburdened and with limited facilities available, district officials have been struggling with a sudden spike in infections.
Authorities were working around the clock to strengthen relief operations in the district to ease the suffering of refugees grappling with the restrictions, Ali said.
“In addition to the regular social safety net program, we have included 200,000 more people under the relief support network. Considering the long-time impact of the coronavirus, this support program is designed for four months starting from May.”
Authorities resumed testing for the virus after halting the process for two days in the area as it was undergoing disinfection, said Dr. Abu Toha Bhuyan, health coordinator of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission.
“Considering a huge population of 1.7 million host communities and 1 million Rohingya refugees, now we are working hard to increase the testing facilities in the district,” he told Arab News. “Also, with the two current lab facilities, we will launch another lab very soon at Teknaf sub-district, which holds several hundred thousand Rohingyas.”

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The total number of infections as of Saturday was 63,026, with 29 people testing positive for the virus and one death reported at the refugee camps.

Authorities are looking to establish an intensive care unit and a high dependency unit by June 21 to provide emergency care to critical patients.
“We can’t predict the situation at this moment about how far worse it might be at the overcrowded Rohingya camps,” Bhuyan said. “But till now the situation is very much under control. Many Rohingyas are now aware of the importance of social distancing and cleanliness in case of any coronavirus suspect.”
He added that there was “definitely” room for improvement to strengthen health and safety awareness among refugees, and that there was an emergency meeting on Sunday to work out the issues such as social distancing which was “almost impossible to maintain among the refugees” due to space constraints.
A refugee family comprising seven to eight people live in a tent of just 120 square feet.
Bhuyan said it was harrowing for refugees to keep all family members, including children inside, with the onset of summer and sweltering conditions.


Germany already dealing with second coronavirus wave

Updated 15 min 35 sec ago

Germany already dealing with second coronavirus wave

  • The number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases has ticked up steadily in recent weeks
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 879 to 211,281
BERLIN: Germany is already contending with a second wave of the coronavirus and risks squandering its early success by flouting social distancing rules, the head of the German doctors’ union said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.
The number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases has ticked up steadily in recent weeks, with health experts warning lax adherence to hygiene and distancing rules among some of the public is spreading the virus across communities.
“We are already in a second, shallow upswing,” Susanne Johna, president of Marburger Bund, which represents doctors in Germany, told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
She said there was a danger that a longing to return to normality and a suppression of containment measures would fritter away the success Germany had achieved so far, urging people to stick to social distancing and hygiene rules and wear masks.
Europe’s biggest economy has so far withstood the pandemic with far fewer deaths than some large neighbors like France and Italy, owing to widespread testing, a well-equipped health care system and good adherence to social distancing.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 879 to 211,281, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by eight to 9,156, the tally showed.
Johna said hospitals were prepared and would make intensive care beds available to COVID-19 patients on a staggered basis, while at the same time gradually reducing the number of planned admissions to normal wards.
According to the DIVI intensive care register there are almost 21,000 intensive care beds in Germany, of which some 12,200 are currently free. As of Monday, there were 270 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, of whom 130 were being ventilated.