Migrants Landing On Lesbos Put in Quick Quarantine

Αssociated Press

Refugees and migrants wearing masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, wait to get on a bus after their arrival at the port of Piraeus, near Athens Monday, May 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

With asylum applications in essential suspension during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, a group of nearly 50 migrants and refugees, mostly from Africa and Afghanistan, managed to land on the island of Lesbos May 6 but put immediately into a 14-day quarantine.

The Hellenic Coast Guard has stepped up patrols in the Aegean, on the lookout for Turkey allowing human traffickers to keep sending refugees and migrants to Greek islands, as the new Democracy government said any who arrived after March 1 would be deported.

The Coast Guard said it will use “aggressive surveillance” and deterrence which has almost closed off traffic trying to reach the islands at the same time Turkey is stepping up provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

Media reports said that Turkey in previous weeks had been massing migrants and refugees on its coast, people who had gone to that country fleeing war and strife in their homelands, wanting to reach Greece to seek asylum after the European Union closed its borders to them.

Turkey has regularly violated terms of a 2016 swap deal with the EU in which it was supposed to keep refugees and migrants in that country in return for a package of pledges, including 6 billion euros ($6.48 billion,) half of which had been delivered.

Five Greek islands near Turkey's coast, including Lesbos – which is holding more than 20,000 – are detaining more than 38,000 refugees and migrants with worries that camps and centers could become breeding grounds for the virus.