Local virus outbreak in Myanmar sparks fears for Rohingya camps

Local virus outbreak in Myanmar sparks fears for Rohingya camps

Rohingya in Myanmar’s conflict-wracked Rakhine state expressed fears Sunday of a coronavirus outbreak reaching their overcrowded camps, after a spate of infections sent the state capital into lockdown.

Nearly 130,000 Rohingya Muslims live in what Amnesty International describes as “apartheid” conditions in camps around Sittwe.

The city has recorded 48 cases in the past week, making up more than 10 percent of the about 400 cases so far registered in Myanmar.

“We are extremely worried about the virus because we are living in limbo and it won’t be easy to control,” said Rohingya Kyaw Kyaw.

Authorities visited the Thae Chaung camp this week to talk about social distancing — an impossibility as 10 families typically squeeze into a single house — and gave out hand sanitizer and face masks.

“But if the lockdown is for a long time, we will … need help,” Kyaw Kyaw said, adding that everyone in the camps had locked themselves indoors.

Sittwe’s streets were empty Sunday, with masked residents encountering barricaded roads as they tried to run errands.

Street vendors hawked plastic face shields and surgical masks.