DHAKA, Bangladesh

First cases of the coronavirus were reported in Bangladesh’s crammed makeshift tents that house over 1 million Rohingya refugees, according to government officials on Thursday.

“We have been confirmed about infections in two Rohingya today, and we have immediately isolated them,” Md. Mahbub Alam Talukder, Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, told Anadolu Agency.

Urging not to spread panic, Talukder said: “We are in the highest alert and whenever we come to know about coronavirus symptoms in any Rohingya person at camps, we immediately collect samples for test”.

Md. Kamal Hossain, local deputy commissioner, told Anadolu Agency that precautionary measures in and around the Rohingya camps have been tightened.

Until the date, a total of 132 coronavirus infection cases have been reported in the Cox’s Bazar district.

Louise Donovan, UNHCR communication officer in Bangladesh, told Anadolu Agency that “following the laboratory confirmation, Rapid Investigation Teams have been activated to investigate both cases, initiate isolation and treatment of patients as well as contact tracing, quarantine and testing of contacts as per WHO guidelines.”

As of Thursday, 108 refugees have been tested, Donovan said.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More COVID-19 deaths in Bangladesh

The south Asian country of 165 million people on Thursday recorded 14 more deaths and 1,041 fresh cases of the coronavirus, according to the latest government update.

The death toll in the country has risen to 283 and the total number of cases reached 18,863. As many as 3,603 people have recovered since the beginning of the outbreak in the country.

Stimulus packages

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced a total of 18 stimulus packages worth around 1,011.17 billion Bangladeshi takas [$11.90B] for different sectors hit by the pandemic, state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency reported.

Hasina said the government will provide financial assistance to all mosques across the country.

There are more than 300,000 mosques in Bangladesh which recently reopened for congregational prayers after one month of restrictions.

The premier also inaugurated the disbursement of cash among 5 million people worst hit by the coronavirus.

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