At least two children have died and scores have fallen sick amid a cold spell that has swept across Bangladesh, spelling misery for the poor, children, elderly and refugees. The cold snap is likely to continue for at least a week, according to the Meteorological Department. Chuadanga district of western Bangladesh recorded the lowest temperature of 6.3 degrees Celsius on Jan. 4. A four-year-old boy died
in Chuadanga and an 18-month-old baby girl died in northern Kurigram district due to cold-related ailments, English-language daily The Daily Star
reported Jan. 4. Hundreds of patients suffering from cold-related diseases including pneumonia and diarrhea have thronged to government and private hospitals, officials in northern Thakurgaon, Panchagarh and Nilphamari districts said. Daily activities including agriculture in various northern and western districts remain suspended as the cold spell forces people to stay indoors, according to the Agriculture Extension Department. Health officials have warned that incidents of sickness and death will increase if the cold wave continues. “Children are most vulnerable to cold-related diseases including pneumonia and diarrhea as well as skin diseases. Additional aid and awareness are required to keep them safe from diseases and death,” Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, head of the health department at Caritas Bangladesh
, told ucanews.com. The government, local administrations and aid agencies are rushing to help poor and needy people with warm clothes, blankets, food and medicines. “The poor and day laborers are suffering seriously as they cannot go out for work, so their families are starving. Children stopped going to school as the weather is unbearable for them,” said Denis C. Baskey, regional director of Caritas Rajshahi, which covers northern Bangladesh. Baskey said Caritas would distribute warm clothes and blankets to about 800 poor people. Rohingya refugees suffer
The cold spell has also caused immense suffering for nearly a million Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Abdul Kalam, 38, a Rohingya father of five from Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar
, said his family has been reeling from bad weather. “We are trying to survive with three blankets we received from NGOs. Two of the children are suffering from cold, fever and pneumonia, and we are worried about them,” he said.
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He said two infants had died in refugee camps due to cold-related diseases. “Doctors told us to keep them warm but we don’t what we can do for them,” Kalam said. Muhammad Nikaruzzaman, chief government officer in Ukhiya sub-district, which covers most of the refugee camps, said measures have saved refugees from the cold snap. “We have distributed 100,000 blankets for refugees and aid groups have provided about 800,000 pieces. We have 120 medical centers running in the camps and dozens of temporary centers serving the needs of people,” Nikaruzzaman told ucanews.com. Caritas has provided 73,000 blankets to 14,600 Rohingya families and is considering their medical needs, said Mazharul Islam, program officer for disaster management at Caritas Chittagong.