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In Bangladesh, the first three known cases of COVID-19 were reported on 7th March 2020 by the country’s epidemiology institute IEDCR. Infections stayed low till the end of March but saw a steep rise in April.
To prevent the spread, on 22nd March 2020, Bangladesh declared a 10-day shutdown effective from 26th March 2020 to 4th April 2020, which was then extended to 14th April 2020 and followed by a further extension up to 25th April 2020. Considering the infectious nature of the virus, the lockdown is an important measure to slow down its spread.
However, a significant percentage of the Bangladeshi population work in the informal sector
and depend on daily earnings and therefore, have been left jobless. And naturally, some parts
of the country are affected more than the others. Cox’s Bazar Sadar, Ukhiya and Teknaf
Upazilas, for instance, are among the 50 most socially deprived Upazilas in Bangladesh and the
Rohingya influx in 2017 has further aggravated the situation. Furthermore, considering Cox’s
Bazar is largely dependent on tourism, the COVID-19 pandemic followed by the shutdown has
made it more susceptible to social and economic crisis.
To address the situation, Action Against Hunger Cox’s Bazar Base has started its COVID-19
response activities on the 25th of March, 2020 in Cox’s Bazar district as well as in the Rohingya
Camps. In the beginning of this response there was no dedicated fund but to quickly respond
to this humanitarian crisis, Action Against Hunger utilized flexibility of some existing budgets
while maintaining full compliances of different project parameters (e.g.: geographic locations,
vulnerable population target groups, etc.). Our heartfelt thanks to our donors whose quick
support enabled us to stand behind the most vulnerable population of Cox’s Bazar during this
humanitarian crisis. The response activities include installation of hand-washing points,
disinfection of areas, cooked food distribution, awareness raising, mental health and psychosocial support and emergency health care services.
In order to ensure cleanliness amidst the pandemic, Action Against Hunger conducted disinfection activities and installed handwashing points replenishing water and soap as required, in the key locations of all 8 Upazilas (sub-district) of Cox’s Bazar district. 6,500 packets of cooked food have been distributed among the most vulnerable families affected by the shutdown due to Covid-19. Action Against Hunger also provided Mental health and psychosocial support to people who are in home quarantine via tele-counselling. Mass awareness has been done by miking COVID-19 prevention messages in 5 Upazilas of Cox’s Bazar. Action Against Hunger has also conducted sessions with Majhis and Imams in an attempt to ensure proper dissemination of messages at all levels.