In pictures: prevention is key to mitigating the deadly impact of coronavirus in Cox's Bazar
Our colleagues on the ground in the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, have been working hard to get the message out on how to protect older Rohingya refugees from Coronavirus (COVID-19) and prevent the virus from spreading.
Since 2017 around 855,000 Rohingya people have fled to the refugee camp, escaping persecution in Myanmar.
Preventing the spread of the virus within the camps poses immense challenges, as the overcrowded conditions make social distancing near impossible and there is limited access to running water.
If the virus was to take hold there, it could have devastating consequences, with limited treatment facilities within the camps and only three ventilators for the entire population.
With the current pandemic, they are now focusing on getting the message out about COVID-19 to older people, countering myths and misinformation and distributing hygiene kits including hand soap and detergent to over 21,000 older people.
We have also installed handwashing points outside service facilities to encourage good hygiene and prevent the spread of the virus.
Our team is working hard to obtain and distribute urgently needed personal protective equipment (PPE) including medical gowns, surgical masks, gloves, goggles, and head and shoe covers which are essential for health and community workers to continue supporting the many vulnerable older people in the camps without contracting or spreading the virus.
Older people are at higher risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death from coronavirus. Many older people in the Rohingya camps are already suffering from conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases which are exacerbated by the poor conditions of the camp, putting them at even higher risk.
It is essential that at-risk older people like these continue receiving medication and treatment and are protected from the virus.
We are also preparing a team of volunteers to be able to provide community healthcare, water, and sanitation at a larger scale over the coming months.
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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.