In response to the news that two positive cases of COVID-19 have been discovered in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh today, Shah Dedar, Protection and Inclusion Adviser in HelpAge Bangladesh, said:
“This raises alarm bells for older people given the risks they face from COVID-19. But given that almost one million people live together in such a small and crowded space, it is not an unexpected development.
We must do everything we can to prevent the number of positive COVID-19 cases spiralling out of control. It is now vital that the government and humanitarian agencies work together to step up testing facilities. There are currently no such facilities in the camps and the nearest one is 30km away. But we must TEST, TEST and TEST!
There are thousands of older people living in the camps, many of them suffer from hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, which are exacerbated by the poor conditions they live in putting them dangerously at risk.
This could be a death sentence for too many people. We have been doing what we can to educate people about the dangers of the virus, but there is only so much we can do.
Given the greater risks older people face, they must be included and not discriminated against when developing a COVID-19 response in Cox’s Bazar.”
Notes to Editor
According to the Directorate General of Health Services in Bangladesh, there are 18,863 positive cases in Bangladesh and 283 deaths.
1,041 people tested positive in the last 24-hours.
HelpAge is educating 21,000 older people in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar about the virus and providing them with hand sanitation and detergent powder. We are also establishing handwashing points at the entrance of all service facilities and providing PPE for health workers.