Geneva Palais briefing note on UNICEF response to COVID-19 in Rohingya refugee camps as first coronavirus case confirmed

This is a summary of what was said by Marixie Mercado, UNICEF spokesperson in Geneva – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

“Here are a few points on UNICEF’s response following the first confirmed case of coronavirus among the Rohingya refugee population in Cox’s Bazar yesterday.

“UNICEF is preparing a 210-bed Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centre. The first 90 beds will be ready by May 22 and the rest by 30 May 2020.

“While construction of the 210-bed facility is underway UNICEF is converting a Diarrhea Treatment Centre into a 30-bed Isolation and Treatment Centre. This scheduled to be complete by tomorrow (16 May) but a little more time is needed to put the human resources and medical supplies in place.

“Personal Protective Equipment is being provided for health workers and health facilities in Cox’s Bazar District.

“Staff in health facilities have been trained on infection prevention and control.

“UNICEF’s network of 229 Community Health Volunteers have been trained on COVID-19 contact tracing.

“UNICEF partners are providing safe water and soap supplies for 240,000 Rohingya refugees, over half of whom are children. Over 4,200 communal handwashing stations in the camps and 160 in the host community since the beginning of March. Some 9,500 latrines and 4,700 bathing facilities have been disinfected.

“UNICEF partners including WFP continue to provide screening, treatment and follow up care for acutely malnourished children. 11 per cent of Rohingya children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition, placing them at heightened risk of medical complications if they contract COVID-19.

“UNICEF partners continue to provide maternal and child healthcare services in the refugee camps and host communities.

“Rohingya volunteer teachers have reached over 100,000 refugee households with school-age children (55 per cent of families in the camps) with information about caregiver-led home-based learning. So far, some 35,000 children are engaged in home-based learning activities.

“UNICEF continues to provide protection services including case management, counselling and psychosocial support for children, women and girls and survivors of gender-based violence. Our network of almost 2,000 partners and volunteers continue to monitor children at increased risk of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect.

“Crucially, UNICEF is making sure that children have access to life-saving information on protecting themselves and their communities against infection — through radio broadcasts and Meena cartoons broadcast at service points in the refugee camps and on TV in host communities. We are working closely with a network of 650 trained community mobilizers including 200 religious leaders and volunteers to get this crucial information to those who need it.”