Australian Red Cross concerned about COVID-19 in Nepal, Bangladesh

24 May 2021 - Australian Red Cross is concerned about COVID-19 outbreaks in Nepal and Bangladesh, in addition to the situation in India.

Australian Red Cross is urging action to protect communities at increasing risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in Nepal, Bangladesh, and neighbouring countries, in addition to the urgent and devastating crisis in India (recently compounded by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae). 

Australian Red Cross is working with locally based partners across the region to scale up their emergency activities in response to COVID-19 surges, and to sustain their essential services including health, water, sanitation and hygiene services to communities - both urgently and long term.  

“We want people in Australia to know how serious the situation is in places like India, but also Nepal and Bangladesh,” said Australian Red Cross Director of International, Michael Annear.  

“We welcome newly announced $16.7M in emergency relief support from the Australian Government to Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, in addition to other support to India.”  

“In the last two weeks, more people have been diagnosed with the virus in Asia and the Pacific than in the Americas, Europe and Africa combined and these only represent the reported cases.” 

Across the region Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff are providing ambulance services, staffing mass vaccination clinics and distributing relief to those most in need. Indian Red Cross staff and volunteers are also assisting communities affected by the cyclonic storm, which made landfall in Gujarat damaging more that 16,000 houses. Local Red Cross personnel are assessing the situation and needs of the affected populations while assisting authorities with evacuations, provision of first aid and masks, and sharing of information about COVID-19 prevention.  

"The double disaster amplifies the risks to millions of people including local responders - these increasingly frequent extreme weather events can force evacuation to crowded communal centres during a pandemic,” Mr. Annear said.  

“With concerns that variants will outpace the vaccine rollout, urgent cooperation is needed at all levels, particularly at a global level, to ensure vaccines, medical equipment and money get to those most in need.” 

Australian Red Cross is raising funds to help local Red Cross and Red Crescent teams across the region to scale up their emergency responses and continue life-saving work on the ground.  

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