In June 2020, amidst heavy rainfall and continued COVID-19 transmissions, the authorities introduced a zonal system to contain the spread of the pandemic. The daily COVID-19 update of WHO Bangladesh1 reported that up to 21 July 2020, a total of 3,218 people tested positive in Cox’s Bazar district for COVID-19, as per the data shared by the Civil Surgeon’s Office in the district – Cox’s Bazar’s first confirmed case was reported on 23 March 2020. Out of the cumulative figure of 3,218 cases, 3,156 were among the host communities and 62 in the camp population. The cumulative death toll for the district stood at 59, out of which 53 deaths occurred in the host community and 6 in the camps.
The frequent and heavy rainfall associated with the monsoon, amplified the challenges of delivering critical services and distributing emergency relief items to the affected communities. Between 14 and 30 June 2020, a total of 2,560 people in the camps were displaced by monsoon-related incidents including winds and slope failure, while another 21,916 people in the camps were affected by the monsoon.2
According to a June 16 article, a new modelling study led by researchers in the Department of International Health and the Infectious Disease Dynamics Group at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has found that if left unchecked, a large-scale COVID-19 outbreak is likely in the Kutupalong-Balukhali camp settlement. The model predicted that 70 to 98 per cent of the population could be infected within the first year after an initial outbreak, with hospitalization needs likely to exceed the current capacity of 340 beds after 55 to 136 days.
PMO Integrated Preparedness and Response to COVID-19
The Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) and BDRCS, with support from IFRC and the American Red Cross, continue to address the dual threats of monsoon-associated hazards and the spread of COVID-19. Site Management Support agencies mobilized 2,548 volunteers (1,978 male and 570 female) who have been engaged with ISCG, UNHCR and IOM to complete small-scale mitigation actions after heavy rainfall damaged shelters in various camp blocks. During this reporting period, distributions of disaster readiness-related Personal Protection Gear to CPP camp volunteers continued.
Between 15 March and 1 July 2020, 781,950 people in camp and host communities were reached through the integrated COVID-19 response. As part of this response, 3,838 volunteers including 3,400 CPP camp volunteers have been mobilized for the dissemination of COVID-19 key messages and handwashing demonstrations in all 34 camps.
A total of 254,000 IEC materials were produced and distributed, while 93,260 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) were provided to BDRCS frontline staff and community volunteers. Two BDRCS Integrated Isolation and Treatment Centres (IITCs) with an 80-bed capacity, have also been established in the camp settlement with dry runs conducted.