• WFP programme interventions in response to Covid-19 in Cox’s Bazar: As advised by the Government of Bangladesh (Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission in Cox’s Bazar) WFP will continue its life-saving food assistance considered extremely critical for the refugee population. All other non-essential activities including livelihoods and disaster risk reduction activities in the camps and host community are temporarily suspended.
• WFP has amended its feeding cycle: In response to Covid-19, WFP has amended its feeding cycle to ensure beneficiaries receive the full entitlement both as part of general food distribution and the e-voucher modality at once every month. In regard to the anticipated market price fluctuations, WFP will provide an additional top-up of USD 2 to each beneficiary within the e-voucher modality.
• WFP active preparedness measures to ensure safety and security of staff and the people we serve: In response to Covid-19, WFP has taken preventative measures in the office space including distribution of hand sanitizers and thermal thermometers, construction of hand washing blocks and targeted awareness on hand washing and health and hygiene. In the WFP distribution outlets, beneficiaries are sensitized to maintain social distancing and are checked regularly for symptoms of Covid-19. WFP is engaged in regular sensitization of partners which includes retailers, cooperating partners and staff across all levels.
• WFP has prepositioned food stocks to continue critical life-saving assistance for two months: WFP has prepositioned food stocks in and around the camps for two months to continue critical food assistance if the situation demand.
• Logistics Sector engaged in advanced preparedness for Covid-19: WFP leads the global Logistics Cluster and is engaged in assessing the local demands of common services including storage capacity, transportation and supply of essential commodities. Already, Logistics Sector has procured 3,000 litres of hand sanitizers, which is in short supply locally, and stands ready to support humanitarian partners and the Government of Bangladesh with critical logistical support including necessary medical supplies when/if called upon.
• Covid-19 in Bangladesh: As of 26 March, Bangladesh has 39 confirmed cases (with five fatalities and five recoveries). This includes one confirmed case in Cox’s Bazar who had traveled history from a Covid-19 affected country.
• The Government of Bangladesh has declared a nationwide lock down from 26 March to 4 April.
The entire population is urged to stay indoors except for essential services/workers who will continue with their activities. The armed forces and the police have been deployed as of 24 March to enforce the conditions around the lock down.
The United Nations diplomats and staff are still allowed to move but only for essential/critical lifesaving activities. WFP has activated business continuity plans in Cox’s Bazar, including protocols for work from home and movement of critical staff and has established a quarantine facility for staff in Dhaka, when/if required.
• In Cox’s Bazar: Humanitarian organizations in Cox’s Bazar are working closely with the Government of Bangladesh on the preparedness and response measures in Rohingya camps as well in Cox’s Bazar host areas. As the lead for Logistics Sector, Emergency Telecommunication Sector and co-lead for the Food Security Sector WFP participated in developing the inter-sectoral plan which prioritizes critical life-saving activities for refugees and host communities, including food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable.
• As reported by the Inter-sector coordination group, planning is underway to expand the treatment facilities in Cox’s Bazar district for both the Bangladeshis and Rohingya refugees. This includes expansion of capacity at Sadar Hospital (10 beds available initially) and support facilities in Ramu and Chakaria (100 beds available initially).
Dedicated isolation facilities are being identified.