Dengue surge in Bangladesh’s Rohingya camps results in over 7,600 cases

Dhaka, Aug 1 (EFE).- Bangladesh authorities on Monday reported that over 7,600 dengue cases, including four deaths, had been registered among Rohingya refugees this year, even as experts warned that the situation could escalate dangerously if measures are not taken quickly.

“We have so far recorded 7,687 cases of dengue patients among the Rohingyas this year. They included over 1,000 patients between Jul. 19 and Jul. 24,” Abu Toha Bhuiyan, health coordinator at the office of the Bangladesh Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, told EFE.

Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral infection which causes flu-like illness, is transmitted by female mosquitoes, mainly of the Aedes species.

The symptoms of the potentially deadly disease include headaches, muscle and joint pains, and body rashes.

Bhuiyan said that the number of dengue cases in the refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh – which house most of the 774,000 Rohingya refugees that have fled Myanmar due to military violence since August 2017 – is especially high and the living conditions there were conducive to further spread.

“We all know that the Rohingya camps are crowded places. There are many places in the camp where water remains stagnant,” he said.

Although an official put the dengue-related deaths among the refugees at seven, the official death toll remains four.

“A total of 10 people died from dengue this year. They include four FDMN (forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals),” Zahidul Islam, the head of the national health emergency operations control room, told EFE.

The sharp spike in dengue cases in Rohingya camp has been in line with warnings issued by experts in the past, according to Kabirul Bashar, an entomologist and zoology professor at Bangladesh’s Jahangirnagar University.

He told EFE that dengue infections in the shelters had been proportionally “higher than rest of the country.”

Bashar urged authorities to immediately form a committee to establish how to control the growth of mosquitoes in the camps, as dengue cases tend to peak between August and September in countries such as Bangladesh.

“We are now just at the beginning of August. The number of dengue cases in Rohingya camps can go dramatically high unless quick steps are taken,” the expert said.

According to the United Nations refugee agency, Bangladesh houses around 925,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, including around 774,000 who have fled since 2017, following an operation that has been flagged by the UN for alleged ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide. EFE


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