People queue to collect subsidised food items during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown in Dhaka on Thursday. AFP
Members of the Bihari community — descendants of refugees who fled to Bangladesh after the partition of India in 1947 — say the pandemic has highlighted the discrimination they have endured for decades.
Some 32,000 Bihari live in Geneva Camp — one of the most desperate slums in the country — where rights lawyer Khalid Hussain and police say two residents tested positive for coronavirus.
Hussain said a state-run hospital meant specifically for COVID-19 patients had refused to admit the two, declaring their condition “not critical.”
Now Geneva Camp residents were being rejected by another local hospital no matter what their health issue is, Hussain said, as staff fear they may catch the virus.
The Biharis have faced discrimination for years, as the community is accused of backing Pakistan during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.
About 500,000 live in 116 settlements across the country of 168 million.
Bihari community leader Sadakat Khan Fakku said a man infected with coronavirus from another camp had also been turned away by a local hospital, and he was now self-quarantined in a one-room home with his family.
None of the hospitals approached by AFP would comment on the allegations, but Nasima Sultana, deputy head of Bangladesh’s health department, denied discrimination. “There are 10 million slum people in Dhaka,” she told AFP.
“We don’t have enough beds,” she added, saying people with mild symptoms should treat themselves at home.
Advocate Hussain said the two infected men from Geneva camp had been isolated with 20 families, but that social distancing was almost impossible in so crowded a place.
He said at least six people in the slum have died in recent weeks with coronavirus-type symptoms such as viral fever and respiratory problems.
“None of them were tested, so we don’t know whether they had coronavirus,” he said.
Bangladesh has officially said 120 people have died and 3,800 others been infected with coronavirus, but experts say more testing would reveal far higher figures.
In a separate development, eight babies and toddlers at a Tokyo care centre have tested positive for the coronavirus after a staff member contracted the disease, its operator said on Wednesday.
"We expect the first 10,000 doses to come on March 25, and 100,000 next month and 200,000 the month after," said Hassan Abbas, an official of AJ Pharma, CanSino's local partner, which will be importing the vaccine.
The sealing of high-risk area comes as Pakistan reported 6,472 news cases on Saturday, the country's highest single-day total. Pakistan has confirmed a total of 132,405 cases, including 2,551 deaths.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the ban, fearing hospitals will be overwhelmed as they were in June if people do not act responsibly.
Taking place from November 3 -13, 1.3 million unique titles including 110,00 new releases mark the annual literary event.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Monday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan visited the d3 (Dubai Design District) on Sunday, along with senior officials among others.