Covid-19: IOM ramps up health response as 2nd wave hits Cox’s Bazar
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said it is working closely with the government and the humanitarian community to ramp up the delivery of a wide range of support services for Rohingyas and host communities in Cox's Bazar district to fight Covid-19.
"It is imperative to strengthen our assistance and not let the situation deteriorate any further before it becomes impossible for the existing healthcare services to cope," said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM deputy chief of mission in Bangladesh.
A second wave of Covid-19 is ravaging South Asia, including Bangladesh, said IOM today.
Following an upsurge in Covid-19 cases in May, local authorities imposed a strict lockdown in five Rohingya refugee camps in the Teknaf and Ukhiya sub-districts in Cox's Bazar.
Preparations for the vaccination campaign for more than nine lakh Rohingya refugees living in the camps are ongoing, but a launch date has yet to be confirmed, IOM said.
Following the government and health sector's recommendations this May, IOM quickly scaled up their capacity from 120 beds to 173.
The two health centres, along with 10 other health facilities, collect samples from suspected Covid-19 patients and provide counselling on prevention and treatment.
Samples are transported for testing to Cox's Bazar's official laboratory under the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), with the results expected within 48 hours.
In May alone, 2,293 samples were collected from these facilities and transported for analysis, 133 patients whose tests were positive were subsequently admitted and 73 contacts were quarantined. Since the beginning of the response, these facilities have admitted close to 900 patients.
To improve early diagnosis and surveillance, IOM has recently opened six additional Covid-19 sentinel sample collection sites, in collaboration with the World Health Organization.
A quarantine facility with 93 shelters for contacts of Covid-19 cases has also recently been established within the camps. This facility, which offers food, health check-ups, and referrals to other support services, has so far quarantined 114 contacts.
To further alleviate the patients' distress and concerns, IOM mental health and psychosocial support teams based in health facilities assist all Covid-19 patients with individual counselling focusing on the impact of the pandemic, psychosocial wellbeing and coping strategies.
Dedicated support for IOM's Covid-19 response in Cox's Bazar is provided by the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), the US State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and the World Bank.