In May 2020, the rise in COVID-19 transmissions in host and camp communities, coupled with Cyclone Amphan and the rescue of about 300 displaced people from Rakhine, from the Bay of Bengal and who were then taken to Bhasan Char, were the one of the concerns of humanitarian organizations. UN agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Partner National Societies, have been collaborating with government counterparts in Cox’s Bazar district to intensify the preparedness and response actions on COVID-19 as well as Cyclone Amphan, and the effects of the emerging monsoon season. On 14 May, the camp settlement saw the first person testing positive for COVID-19. Up to 21 June, 2,053 people tested positive in Cox’s Bazar district, with a total of 45 cases recorded so far in the camp communities, and 56 cases recorded in host communities, only on 21 June, according to the Civil Surgeon Office. Amid the outbreak, Cyclone Amphan made landfall in Cox’s Bazar on 20 May, with a speed of 140 to 160 km per hour, causing damage to shelters and livelihoods in host and camp communities.
PMO Integrated Preparedness and Response to COVID-19 (up to 18 June)
The number of COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh crossed the 100,000 mark on 18 June, triggering an extension of recent zoning arrangements and existing restrictions across the country to 30 June 2020. This comes at the same time as heavy rains batter Cox’s Bazar, causing some flooding in the camps. Alongside government and UN initiatives to increase the number of isolation and treatment centres and the testing capacity of the only laboratory in the district,
BDRCS with support from IFRC, Qatar Red Crescent, Swiss Red Cross, and Swedish Red Cross, is constructing two Integrated Isolation and Treatment Centres (IITCs) for COVID-19 with a capacity of 80 beds in total, located in camps 7 (50 beds) and 2E (30 beds) – the facility in Camp 2E began operations recently, while the other IITC is scheduled to be launched on 28 June.
The Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) and BDRCS, with support from IFRC and American Red Cross, continue to address the dual threats of monsoon-associated hazards and the spread of COVID-19. The camp volunteers have been engaged with ISCG, UNHCR, IOM and Site Management Support agencies to complete smallscale mitigation actions after Cyclone Amphan and heavy rainfall in different camp blocks. As part of continuous efforts for monsoon preparedness and response, disaster readiness-related Personal Protection Gear has been replenished. 3,838 volunteers including 3,400 CPP camp volunteers have been mobilised for dissemination of COVID-19 key message and handwashing demonstration in all 34 camps. 254,000 IEC materials were produced and distributed, while 80,180 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) was provided to BDRCS frontline staff and community volunteers.