Fri 15 May 2020:
The novel coronavirus has been detected in one of the camps in southern Bangladesh that are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees, according to officials.
An ethnic Rohingya refugee and a local person tested positive for COVID-19, a senior Bangladeshi official and a United Nations spokeswoman said on Thursday. It was the first confirmed case in the densely populated camps as humanitarian groups warned the infection could devastate the crowded settlement.
The nexus of poverty and risk was highlighted by the discovery of cases in the world’s biggest refugee camp, where upwards of a million Rohingya live in squalor.
“We are looking at the very real prospect that thousands of people may die from COVID-19” in these camps, Save The Children’s Bangladesh health director Shamim Jahan said.
“There are no intensive care beds at this moment” in the camps at Cox’s Bazaar, Jahan said.
Track and trace teams were fanning out Friday to follow up on two positive tests.
– Vaccine –
Epidemiologists have long warned that the virus could race through the cramped, sewage-soaked alleys of the camps, where the persecuted Muslim minority have lived since fleeing a military offensive in neighboring Myanmar more than two years ago.
Social distancing is all but impossible in such close quarters, and health experts say only a vaccine will prevent widespread infection.
Despite scientists working flat out towards that aim, experts say it could still be many months — or even years — away.
And without a robust roll-out plan, even highly developed countries could struggle to take advantage of any breakthrough.
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