EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / HIGHLIGHTS
COVID-19 infection rates across Bangladesh continued to drop with 11,077 new cases recorded (down from 21,626 in January), case fatality is also decreasing with the number of deaths recorded in February at 281, down from 568 in the previous month. The majority of national COVID-19 containment measures have been rescinded and compliance with those measures that remain in place (such as wearing of face-masks in public) is weak. Nationally the largest remaining restriction is on education as schools and education establishments remain closed.
A mass vaccination campaign is underway with a total of 3,110,525 people within Bangladesh having received their first dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine (Covishield) as of 28 February 2021.
In Cox’s Bazar the situation remains relatively stable with members of the host community amongst the recipients of the vaccine. There has been no significant change in containment measures or restrictions and within the host community, COVID-19 caseload is following the national trend and decreasing. However there has been a small upturn in positive cases identified within the refugee population, with 25 new cases recorded in February up from 14 cases the month before.
Preliminary findings from the Refugee influx Emergency Vulnerability Assessment (REVA 4) conducted by WFP shed light on the impact of the COVID-19 crises on both the refugee and host communities. The survey (which is conducted annually) shows that overall vulnerability has increased from 2019 to 2020 across all populations, both Rohingya and host community.
Livelihoods amongst the host community were badly hit by COVID-19 containment measures and led to a significant drop in income for many households. For the refugee community almost all avenues to cash generation (such as volunteer stipends or access to the informal economy) were heavily affected by the crisis, although provision of aid (including food) was able to continue through the inclusion of COVID-19 prevention measures within delivery modalities.
An assessment by REACH and analysis based on secondary data by ACAPS highlight the difficulties that persons with disabilities (PwD) and the elderly face within the camp environment. Even before COVID-19, PwD faced many barriers in accessing services, but containment measures and the need for social distancing and increased hygiene have only increased the challenges they face.
Schools continue to remain closed. Access to distance learning remains challenging for refugee children and children from the host community’s poorer families. Protection actors highlight the increasing negative impact this is having on the mental health of children, the exposure to risk that is faced by out-of-school children and the detrimental impact on their cognitive and social development.