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Coronavirus: Two Rohingya refugees test positive in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar

Coronavirus: Two Rohingya refugees test positive in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar”

The coronavirus has been detected in one of the camps in southern Bangladesh that are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees.

There have always been warnings the virus could race like wildfire through the cramped, sometimes sewage-soaked alleys of the network of 34 camps in southeast Bangladesh.

Subjected to ethnic violence, mass rapes and killings by Myanmar's military, the Rohingyas have been fleeing the country since 2017.

Two migrants who reached Greece's Lesbos island this week tested positive for Covid-19 and were isolated with no contact with refugee camps on the island. The World Health Organization (WHO) later said one case was a local man.

A 42-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man were the other positive cases.

It was unclear if they had been in contact with the first two cases.

The camp's population density is over 40 times Bangladesh's average, with about 40,000 people per square kilometre living in plastic shacks, according to the news agency. He sparked a manhunt at one point after he fled before police found him around four hours later.

"Open communication is critical to promoting hygiene awareness and tracking the spread of the disease", Sullivan said.

The man is believed to have been infected in a hospital in a nearby town where he took a brother for treatment, Mr Rahim said.

The charity Médicins Sans Frontières warned that before Covid-19, around a third of patients it treated presented with respiratory tract symptoms, such as shortness of breath, meaning they are at higher risk of the disease.

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"We have locked down the block, barring anyone from entering or leaving their homes", he said.

At least 1,000 Rohingya are stranded at sea as Southeast Asian nations tighten their borders to keep out the new coronavirus, Amnesty International said on Friday, urging action to ensure they were not buried in an "invisible graveyard" at sea.

Authorities had suspended internet use inside the camps for security reasons, and recent reports said armed groups among the refugees were allegedly involved in kidnapping, smuggling of drugs and seeking ransom.

"We call on additional worldwide solidarity and support to ensure an adequate response for this particularly vulnerable population", a UNHCR statement said.

But, the U.N.'s Bangladesh refugee agency claims that health staff in the Cox's Bazar camp in the Kutupalong settlement was prepared to deal with the infections and had necessary personal protective equipment to respond.

Bangladesh restricted traffic in and out of the camps and forced aid organisations to slash manpower by 80 percent.

Health experts and Rohingya community leaders have become increasingly concerned as the number of coronavirus infections has continued to rise in Bangladesh, which has reported 18,863 cases of Covid-19 and 283 deaths.

Aid workers have warned of a potential humanitarian disaster if there is a significant outbreak in the refugee camps outside Cox's Bazar.

Daniel P. Sullivan, a senior advocate for Human Rights of the Refugees International, said the restrictions were holding back vital information.



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