After initially appearing not to be spreading so rapidly there, COVID-19 is starting to establish a hold in many lower income countries in Asia where we work, with thousands of cases already and many more likely going unreported.
With older people most at risk of dying from the virus, the impact on poorer countries in Asia - a continent known for its rapidly ageing population - could be devastating, with a worst-case scenario forecasting millions of deaths.
This is particularly worrying for those areas in Asia which are already affected by war, climate change and the ongoing impacts of other humanitarian crises, and their health systems are likely to be overwhelmed if cases spike. For example, the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are at particularly high risk, given the poor health of the population there and the already limited access to healthcare. The overcrowded conditions and lack of water facilities for the almost 1 million people living in the camps will make preventing the spread of the virus nearly impossible.
Whilst we are seeking to engage governments and other humanitarian agencies on how to best protect its older populations, governments face several challenges with delivering sufficient supplies, health and care services which lack the capacity to deal with such an overwhelming crisis, and a lack of awareness among older people and care providers on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
Age International is helping to fight the spread and the impact of Covid-19 by raising awareness of the disease and how to help stop its spread as well as providing materials to help protect older people from the virus
Older people in the poorest parts of the world affected by conflict or living in refugee camps need help urgently to survive the silent threat of COVID-19.