The United Nations own refugees agency said it had recorded 1,000 cases in camps in the Middle East and North Africa, where millions have been displaced from Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya.
“What we know is that there are cases, but despite the fact that in some of the countries it has got a lot worse now, it hasn’t reached proportions that are more dramatic than for the rest of the population,” said Andreas Kirchhof, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Outbreaks in the Zaatari and Al-Azraq camps for Syrian refugees in Jordan had been spotted an managed, he said. Al-Azraq, east of the capital, Amman, had recently recorded 28 cases, but testing had been increased and those infected had been isolated.
“This is maybe a model case on how major consequences have been avoided so far, and I say so far because we don’t know what the future will bring,” he said. In Yemen, where fighting restrict access and there is little testing, he said the picture was less clear.
The UNHCR records some 16 million refugees, displaced people and returnees in north Africa and the Middle East. They will face sharply dropping temperatures as winter approaches sparking fears the virus will spread more easily in cramped housing and tents.
“It’s certainly a risk factor, people being crammed in insufficient shelters, in the cold and in some of the places where Syrian refugees are staying, it gets well below zero,” Mr Kirchhof said.