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Bangladesh / Refugee Response: COVID-19 Response (1-15 August 2020)

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As of 15 August, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported over 3,660 cases of COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar in the host community, and some 79 refugees who have also tested positive. Six refugees have sadly died. Close to 170 refugees are in quarantine.

To date, some 245 people have received treatment in two UNHCR-supported Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centres (SARI ITCs) in Ukhiya and Kutupalong, as well as in an Intensive Care Unit that UNHCR was instrumental in establishing at Sadar Hospital, the District’s principal healthcare facility. Patients include refugees and members of the host community. So far, the health services put in place have had sufficient capacity to support all patients with COVID-19 and provide medical assistance.

There has been an easing of some lockdown measures in Cox’s Bazar District. UNHCR and its partners continue to follow guidelines set by Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) on the critical activities that are permitted in the camps. The scope of permissible critical activities has been interpreted to include limited registration activities and expanded monsoon response and repair work in addition to the most essential services related to health, water and sanitation and distribution of food, Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking fuel and other items. UNHCR and its partners are exercising care in conducting activities in the camps with as low a footprint as possible, as the risk posed by the virus to the refugee community and humanitarian staff remains high.

Based on a rapid review of mortality data collected by community health workers, UNHCR and WHO see no sustained increase in mortality being reported since the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the camps in May 2020. The Health Sector will continue to monitor each new weekly round of data collection, in order to detect increases in reported mortality and appropriate interventions in a timely fashion.