DHAKA, Bangladesh

A record of 60 coronavirus cases were confirmed in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on Sunday, according to official data.

The new infections pushed the overall caseload among the persecuted minority community from Myanmar camped in Cox’s Bazar to 2,040, including 21 related deaths, the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner said.

As many as 831 refugees are under quarantine, 146 of whom were put under isolation in the last 24 hours.

Terming the situation in the camps as risky, the Rohingya have demanded that they be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We want vaccines,” Mayyu Khan, a young refugee at the camp, told Anadolu Agency. “We are literally living in captivity, surrounded by barbed wire fences and are not able to follow hygiene rules in this unplanned and over populated area.”

He added: “Since hygiene is not possible, there is no alternative to vaccination.”

Khin Mung, another refugee, said “the international community must provide us vaccines if they really sympathize with us.”

He said that since coronavirus does not discriminate on the basis of citizenship, race or religion, vaccine distribution should also not be selective.

According to Abu Toha MR Bhuiyan, the chief health coordinator at the repatriation commissioner’s office, inoculation for the Rohingya is under “active consideration.”

“We expect that in collaboration with international aid agencies, we will be able to launch a COVID-19 vaccination drive for the Rohingya soon,” he told Anadolu Agency recently.

Bangladesh has been witnessing an alarming rise in coronavirus cases over the past several days. Authorities have deployed military to ensure that people stay indoors and not violate lockdown restrictions, which are in effect until July 14.

The surge is blamed largely on the highly infectious Delta variant first detected in India.

The country has so far reported over a million infections and more than 16,000 related deaths.

It is also struggling to accelerate the vaccination drive, and only 2.6% the population of about 170 million people have so far received the required two doses, according to Our World in Data, a tracking website affiliated with Oxford University.

The inoculation program was suspended after New Delhi stopped exporting AstraZeneca shots. But it recently received vaccine shipments from the US and China, and the drive has resumed in limited scale.

In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, all government offices have been directed to conduct their activities virtually, i.e. e-mail, SMS, WhatsApp, etc.

A notification asked all government, semi-government, autonomous and private offices to remain closed during the restrictions.

According to sources, the government is mulling to extend the lockdown, or impose further restrictions during the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival.

*Najmus Sakib from Dhaka contributed to this report

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