Though Super Cyclone Amphan is forecast to make landfall on the western side of Bangladesh, it will likely bring heavy rains to Cox’s Bazar — the world’s largest refugee camp — in the east of the country
Almost one million Rohingya refugees live there, many who moved after fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The first known Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the camp last week and with the storm now imminent, the two disasters could make for a devastating combination.
One human rights advocate said that a novel coronavirus outbreak in the camp would be a “nightmare scenario.”
“The prevalence of underlying health conditions among refugees and the deteriorating sanitary conditions sure to come with the looming monsoon and flooding season make for a witch’s brew of conditions in which the virus is sure to thrive,” said Daniel P. Sullivan, who works for the US-based organization Refugees International.
Experts are particularly worried about just how hard it is to practice adequate social distancing while evacuating or moving to storm shelters.
“It is a concern because that means whatever we are doing has to be done with maintaining physical distance, ensuring the norms of hygiene promotion, hand washing, and all these things, so it is complicated,” said Achala Navaratne, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross in Bangladesh.