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Coronavirus: Greece's largest migrant camp records first infection

Coronavirus: Greece's largest migrant camp records first infection
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Wednesday, 02 September, 2020, 21:05

Greece has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 at an overcrowded migrant camp on the island of Lesbos. Officials say the infected man has been isolated and camp authorities are tracing his contacts.

Greek migration authorities Wednesday reported the first case of COVID-19 at the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, where nearly 13,000 migrants live in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.

The infection was discovered in a 40-year-old refugee from Somalia, migration officials said, adding that infection does not look to be severe.

The man's contacts are now being traced, and "extensive checks" are ongoing at the camp, Greece's Health Ministry said in a statement.

Migration officials said the camp would be sealed until at least September 15, with only security personnel being granted access after undergoing temperature checks, and that the police presence would be increased around the camp to ensure the lockdown is not breached.

Refugee camps on Greek islands are notoriously overcrowded, and the Moria has a capacity for fewer than 3,000 people, although nearly 13,000 migrants currently live there.

Since March, migrants arriving to Greek islands have been quarantined in separate buildings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across entire camps.

Greece's Migration Ministry on Wednesday said a new isolation unit for Moria would be ready later in September.

Although access to migrant camps on Greek islands is currently restricted, many migrants on Lesbos stay outside the walls of the Moria camp, making restrictions harder to enforce.

The Somali refugee was among those sleeping outdoors, a camp source told the AFP news agency.

Greece's Migration Ministry said the infected man was granted refugee status and a residence permit to live in Greece and had left the camp on July 17.

Lesbos is located just off the Turkish coast, and hundreds of thousands of migrants have used the island as a jumping-off point in attempts to reach mainland Europe.