Minors make up at least 60 per cent of the Rohingya refugees who have crossed the border to Bangladesh over the past few weeks. Highly traumatized, they are arriving malnourished and injured after walking for days. Photo: UNICEF/Brown

The Coronavirus Threatens Refugees and People in Crisis

According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus outbreak, known as COVID-19, has spread to over 60 countries. Over 88,000 people have been sickened and over 3,000 have died from the novel coronavirus. The number of cases of coronavirus are increasing daily. So far, though, most of these cases are in countries with a decent health system, including China and South Korea. But, there is increasing concern among health experts about the potential impact of the coronavirus epidemic among populations that live in extremely vulnerable circumstances — including refugees and people displaced by conflict and humanitarian crisis.

How will the virus affect refugees and displaced persons?

To understand the potential impact of this coronavirus outbreak on vulnerable populations, including refugees, around the world is Dr. Paul B. Spiegel. He is the director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he also works as a professor.

Dr. Spiegel explains that he is immediately concerned about the implications of COVID-19 spreading among the densely populated Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, as well as more broadly the implications of the spread of coronavirus to humanitarian crises and countries with weak health systems, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.


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A transcript of this conversation can be found here.