Bangladesh, humanitarian groups prepare Rohingya camps for COVID-19 combat


In anticipation for a possible coronavirus outbreak in Cox’s Bazar, where one of the largest refugee camps in the world is located, the Bangladesh government and the humanitarian community including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), deliver a wide array of supports to ensure that health services is in place for both Rohingya refugees and the host community .

About 1,012 people have tested positive for COVID-19 inside the country and 46 people have died as of April 15, according to the Directorate General of Health Service. However, no positive cases have so far been reported across the congested Rohingya camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas in Cox’s.

All the 35 health care facilities supported by IOM continue to provide essential primary health care services, while implementing partners have trained community health workers and volunteers.

COVID-19 case management orientations were also held for 260 IOM health staff, including sessions on infection prevention control and risk communication. Altogether, around 600 staff received the general briefing on COVID-19 including ongoing updates, clinical features, preventative measures and travel recommendations.

Furthermore, to ensure staff safety, health facilities were provided with personal protection equipment, including disposable gowns, examination gloves, face masks, face shields, boots, N95 respirators and liquid hand wash dispensers.

In addition, infrared thermal scanners were distributed for setting up safe triage at health facilities for COVID-19, continued procurement is underway.

Dr. Samir Kumar Howlader, IOM National Health Programme Officer said: “IOM continues to coordinate with the Directorate General of Health Services, Civil Surgeon Office and the World Bank to support government isolation centres at Chakaria and Ramuupazilas in Cox’s Bazar.”

He added, “IOM has extended its support to Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital with 10 Medical Officers, one Radiologist, one Radiographer, one Sanitation Officer and 15 Cleaners and will supply PPEs for the health care providers.”

At the request of the local authorities, two ambulances have been assigned to support the referral of COVID-19 cases. Ambulance support has been provided for the transport of seven contacts of a suspected case as well as transport of samples from the contacts.

Despite movement restrictions, IOM Communication with Communities (CwC) teams and others continue using public audio forums and radio programmes to communicate hygiene and health-related messages with awareness-raising materials.

IOM is working with community leaders in the camps and the host community areas to encourage behavioural changes in line with the guidance provided by DGHS. Supplementing these efforts are other IOM teams in Protection, Site Management and WASH, which have also conducted awareness-raising measures that have reached more than 300,000 beneficiaries.

IOM Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response is supported by the Governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and United States of America. (Source: IOM)