Government has decided in principle to vaccinate the refugees, says Cox’s Bazar civil surgeon
Bangladesh has so far been hugely successful in protecting hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas sheltered in 34 camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Contrary to the fears of many, the number of Rohingyas affected by the coronavirus has been less than the rest of the country, including the communities that are hosting them. The fears were not at all unfounded, as the persecuted people from Myanmar’s Rakhine state live in congested and unhygienic conditions that make them more vulnerable being infected.
Advance precautionary measures, strict implementation of Covid-19 protocols and assistance from different United Nations organizations, INGOs and NGOs have helped the authorities keep the situation under control, earning praise from various sectors. Some have even said that the scenario of the whole country would be better if the handling of the Rohingya camps could have been replicated outside the camps.
On Tuesday, the Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ICSG) that coordinates the humanitarian activities of the UN organizations, INGOs and NGOs praised the efforts of Bangladesh for being successful so far in dealing with Covid-19 in Rogingya camps.
Meanwhile, the government has decided in principle that the Rohingya population will be vaccinated, but the timeframe has not yet been fixed, Mahbubur Rahman, civil surgeon of Cox’s Bazar, told Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.
Bangladesh detected the first cases of coronavirus in the country on March 8, 2020. The first case in the Rohingya camps was detected mid-May.
Since the first case, a little over 400 out of about one million Rohingyas have tested positive and 10 of them have died. While every death is precious, the overall scenario is not that bad.
A total of over 30,500 Rohingyas were tested.
On the other hand, more than 5,500 members of the host communities have tested positive, and 73 people died. Over 61,300 people from the host communities have been tested.
“We achieved the success by working in a coordinated manner. We have coordinated with all the stakeholders so that these people are protected,” Cox’s Bazar Civil Surgeon Mahbubur Rahman told this correspondent.
“From the outset, we were very careful with considering the consequences if the virus spread in a big way. It would have been extremely difficult to control given the living conditions of the Rohingyas,” he said.
“Everyone, especially the UN and international organizations, and local entities helped us in our endeavours. We will continue our good work,” he added.
The civil surgeon informed that the government had decided in principle to vaccine the Rohingya population.
“The decision has been taken, but no timeframe has been fixed,” he said.
To a question, Mahbubur said: “It is most likely that the prioritization policy for providing vaccines will be in line with the ongoing nationwide vaccination program, but the government may choose to change the criteria. Nothing is yet certain.”