Over 200 Covid-19 cases at new migrant facility on Lesvos

Temporary camp reports more cases amid rapid testing

22 September, 13:27

    (ANSAmed) - ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 22 - A total of 243 positive Covid-19 cases have been recorded at the new temporary facility for refugees and migrants on the Greek island of Lesvos, the Greek government has announced.

    Spokesman Stelios Petsas told a media briefing that a local team of National Public Health Organisation (EODY) staff had conducted a total of 7,064 rapid tests from September 12-20 at the camp - which consists of tents set up at the Kara Tepe area near the port of Mytilene. The 243 positive tests means that 3.44% of the total population were found to have the virus. The camp was hastily set up following a series of fires which ripped through and completely destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp, displacing over 12,000 people. A total of 9,200 people had been transferred to the new facility by Monday according to the government, and the process of examining their asylum applications has already been launched.

    According to EODY data, 128 of those diagnosed to be positive are men, with an average age of 24. However, it's worth noting that children under the age of 10 did not take the test, while 40% of the total refugee population there are children. Given that the area in Kara Tepe is smaller than that of Moria and the pandemic seems to be seeing a spike in positive cases across Greece, the risk of transmitting the virus remains very high.

    Coronavirus tests have also been performed on a total of 160 police and administrative staff, while 40 members of various NGOs were also tested. All of those tests came back negative.

    According to the government's announcements, the police operation to get all the refugees and migrants into the new structure in Kara Tepe will be completed by the end of Tuesday, while the roads that were closed during recent weeks are being reopened. Businesses in the area which have remained closed since Wednesday, September 9 will also reopen.

    In related developments, the humanitarian NGO Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) published a statement from an Afghan migrant which summed up the conditions and mood among the people staying at the facility, via its Twitter account, which read: "We are 100 people in one big tent. We have no shower, not enough water and toilets. It's not good to put so many people in a tent. We are so scared of Covid-19." Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for Greece commented that the Kara Tepe camp, which consists only of tents, "can only be a temporary solution". The UNHCR also said that the Greek authorities have not yet clarified what the future use of the facility will be. "Our teams are providing assistance with spatial and location planning to facilitate the distribution of accommodation, the provision of information, and the distribution of basic necessities to all those entering the new facility," said UNHCR press spokesperson Shabia Mantoo. (ANSAmed).

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