The crowded refugee camps that are home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh have been placed under a lockdown after an alarming spread of the coronavirus, officials said on Friday.
The shutdown will initially last for one week, until May 27, dpa news agency quoted Shah Rezwan Hayat, the head of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, as saying.
A total of 863 Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths have so far been reported among the more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar district after they fled persecution in Buddhist-majority neighbouring Myanmar.
The first Covid-19 case was reported in a camp in May last year, more than two months after Bangladesh reported its first cases in March.
District chief of health services Mahbubur Rahman said the number of cases has risen alarmingly in the camps over last couple of days, with reports of up to 45 fresh infections per day.
Law enforcement agencies were asked to strictly monitor the lockdown so that the residents stay indoors.
Shops and transportation services in the area will also remain closed.
New cases and deaths were also rising among the host populations, Rahman said.
Bangladesh, which logged 785,198 cases and 12,284 deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020, imposed a nationwide lockdown in April this year shutting offices, shops and transports.
The government allowed shops to reopen and transports to resume on a limited scale in city streets ahead of the Muslim celebration of Eid-al-Fitr festival on May 14.