West Bengal is part of Bangladesh

LIPortal

SARS-CoV-2 in Bangladesh and how to deal with it

On March 9, 2020, according to the Bangladeshi daily newspapers, the first three cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Bangladesh were officially confirmed. Before that, the spread and further developments surrounding the SARS-CoV-2, for example in China and Europe, were the focus of the Bangladeshi media. The reasons for this include that Bangladeshi citizens abroad are either affected by the containment measures on site or by the virus itself, for example in China and Singapore, but also that the media derive implications for the domestic market from the foreign experiences. For example, the daily newspapers help to provide information about precautionary measures and provide information about official contact options in the event of a suspected infection. At the same time, the government is often accused of inadequate preparation for the viral disease domestically, although the experience of other countries has urged them to take early action and prepare. This includes the fact that the precautionary measures and controls of the Bangladeshis who have returned from abroad have been too negligent. The returnees did not follow quarantine regulations, which in turn was not checked by the authorities, just as violations of quarantine regulations were not sanctioned. Other allegations are that sufficient medical equipment was not obtained in good time, that medical staff had poor knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 and that a test for the virus was only possible in the capital Dhaka for too long. Diagnostic facilities at Rajshahi Medical College and Cox's Bazar Medical College began operations in early April 2020 and have been testing residents of their respective regions for SARS-CoV-2 infection since then. Thus, the number of facilities that can test people for infection with this corona virus is nine in the capital area and seven in the rest of the country.

The officially first people with a proven SARS-CoV-2 infection were between 20 and 35 years old. Meanwhile, the official count of the Bangladeshi Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (abbr .: IEDCR) is 803 infected and 39 deceased (as of April 13, 2020). On March 23, when the third death and six other confirmed infections were reported, the government imposed sweeping restrictions on the freedom of movement for the population. For the time being, major events of any kind were prohibited. Transport, shopping, official services and other things have been reduced to the bare essentials as far as possible. All educational institutions were to be closed and movement of people outside of their own homes should, if unavoidable, only take place with the use of respiratory protection masks. This period was extended from April 10th to April 25th.

A large part of the Bangladeshi population is affected by the contact and work restrictions. As a result, many are faced with financial risks that threaten their very existence. Since under normal circumstances around 35% of the population have an income of the equivalent of US $ 5.50 (purchasing power parity) or less per day and the average annual salary is generally around US $ 4,560 per capita and per year (purchasing power parity) , the interruptions in employment, especially in the low-wage sectors of the industrial and economic sectors in the metropolitan areas, go hand in hand with a deterioration in the supply situation of low-wage earners and their families. It was also announced on March 23, 2020 that many large orders, for example in the textile industry, were withdrawn by German clients, among others. According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (abbr .: BGMEA), this meant losses of 3.15 billion US dollars (as of April 12, 2020). The BGMEA responded with a call to the German government and asked them to prevent further failures. If the textile industry records even more losses, the chairwoman of the BGMEA said in a video, the loss of the income base of 4.1 million textile workers, who are also among the low-wage earners in Bangladesh, is to be feared. Some textile factories closed as a result of government regulations to contain the corona virus. It was also revealed that some textile workers had not been paid wages since January 2020. Those affected have been protesting against these abuses since April 11th. Elsewhere, the textile factories were not closed. There the production could partly be converted to the manufacture of respiratory masks and protective suits.

Local initiatives have been set up in the Dhaka districts of Badda and Mirpur, in the Brahmanbaria district in the east and in other parts of the country. There, people with higher incomes are trying to maintain the basic needs of the lower-income families in the respective residential areas by distributing food. The government has also initiated the first state relief programs. These include programs to provide financial support for those working in agriculture or for people living in extreme poverty.

Care and reception of refugees from Myanmar

Between 700,000 and 1.1 million refugees from Myanmar, who are believed to be of South Asian descent and are known as Rohingya, have arrived in Bangladesh in the past four years. They previously lived in Rakhine, also called Rakhine, in Myanmar. There they are considered ethnically Bengali and represent a minority linguistically, religiously and ethnically, which, however, appears to be heterogeneous in itself and, for example, is of both Muslim and Hindu faith.

Since the 1980s at the latest, tensions in this part of Myanmar have been known in the form of violent riots between these minorities and the rest of the local population. In the spring and summer of 2017, the Myanmar military was called in to calm the situation in the affected regions. According to media reports, members of the military began to support the attacks on minority settlements. This resulted, among other things, in an emigration of many Rohingya to other regions of Myanmar, but also to Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and other countries.

The vast majority of the Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. There, the country's supply capacities were quickly exceeded. With government and international support, emergency shelters were built mainly in the region of Cox’s Bazar (transliterated: kaksꞋbājār), Bangladesh’s southeastern border region with Myanmar. The living conditions of the refugees who live in these accommodations are considered poor. This relates in particular to a lack of living space and sanitary facilities. In December 2017, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar decided that the refugees would be returned to Rakhine in groups. The repatriation of the first 2,260 refugees was to begin in mid-November 2018. However, they do not want to be returned without their citizenship and associated rights in Myanmar, for example, being recognized and assured. Many of the Rohingya who remained in India probably also demanded the same. However, since the Indian government had begun the repatriation of the Rohingya to Myanmar, some against their will, or the expulsion was imminent, many Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in January 2019. This month there was another immigration of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh - this time from India.

The fact that the Rohingya remained in Bangladesh and the low number of returnees to Myanmar have led to strong criticism, including from the Bangladeshi government. Problems include tension with the surrounding local population. The environmental degradation that occurred when the accommodations were built is also often discussed. Nevertheless, the return of refugees from Bangladesh to Rakhine in Myanmar is said to be voluntary. At the end of October 2019, the Foreign Office of Bangladesh confirmed the return of some Rohingya. According to a newspaper report, there were 46 people. In 2019, the government of Bangladesh had solicited support for the return of the Rohingya from other Asian countries. During state visits by Bangladeshi delegations led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to China and Malaysia or foreign state visits to Bangladesh, e.g. that of the South Korean government, opportunities for cooperation in this area were also sought. The Bangladeshi government has repeatedly stated that it is by no means possible for the Rohingya to remain in Bangladesh and that the previous economic and ecological effects of refugee accommodation are difficult to overcome. She feels that the United Nations or the international community are inadequately supported by the United Nations or the international community in repatriating the Rohingya to their former settlement areas in Myanmar.