MSF opens COVID-19 treatment centre in Cox’s Bazar

Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on 7 March 2019
Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on 7 March 2019Reuters

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), an international medical organisation, on Sunday opened a COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre at Nayapara camp in Teknaf upazila of Cox’s Bazar.

The opening of the Severe Acute Respiratory Infection–Isolation and Treatment Centre (SARI-ITC) is part of MSF’s continuing scale-up of activities in response to the spread of COVID-19 across this part of south-east Bangladesh.

The Nayapara SARI-ITC will have a 100-bed maximum capacity and start with 20 operational beds.

It adds to the existing healthcare network in the district, supporting the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to manage the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

“We're here to serve people in need of assistance at these difficult times. We want to establish a relationship of trust with the local Bangladeshi and Rohingya communities so that we can overcome this challenge together,” said MSF head of the mission Muriel Boursier.

The centre can treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, as it has emergency medical support and oxygen concentrators.

It has been built using the lessons learned from other COVID-19 responses around the world and follows the latest guidelines on infection prevention and control (IPC).

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“We're offering patients a safe place for isolation and treatment. There's a visitors’ pathway where families and caretakers can see their hospitalised relatives and observe the treatment procedures directly,” Boursier said.

The team at the centre will work closely with community leaders, communities and staff at nearby health posts in the refugee camp (Camp 26) to ensure that people showing symptoms of COVID-19 can be properly and safely referred to the Nayapara SARI-ITC.

"MSF would like to thank the government of Bangladesh for their support and for granting all approvals to make the SARI-ITC a reality,” Boursier added.

To help tackle the pandemic while maintaining essential health services, MSF continues its strong partnership with national health efforts through our projects in Kamrangrichar, Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar, running 11 hospitals and primary health centres.

This covers a range of inpatient and outpatient services, including emergency and intensive care, paediatrics, obstetrics, sexual and reproductive healthcare, treatment for survivors of sexual violence and patients with non-communicable diseases, and occupational health.

In response to COVID-19, MSF teams have begun health promotion activities to raise awareness and educate communities. They are also training frontline workers on IPC and prevention measures and have set up isolation wards in all MSF facilities.