EPIDEMIOLOGISTS AND health workers have long dreaded an outbreak of coronavirus in the world’s refugee camps. Tightly packed, insanitary, with high proportions of poor, under-nourished people, they are the ideal breeding-ground for the disease. On May 14th it came to pass at last, and in the biggest camp of them all, Kutupalong, in Cox’s Bazar, a sliver of land in southern Bangladesh adjacent to Myanmar. Two people tested positive for the virus, one a Rohingya refugee. The next day three more Rohingyas tested positive.
About 1m Rohingyas live in a sprawl of 34 camps near Cox’s Bazar, including Kutupalong. The first two who tested positive were quickly taken off to dedicated isolation and treatment centres within the camps. Soon afterwards 1,275 families, 5,000 people in all, who might have been in contact with the two were placed under complete lockdown.