Lesbos Refugee Detention Camp Quarantined Over COVID-19 Case

September 2, 2020

A month after a center in the notoriously overcrowded Moria refugee and migrant camp on the island of Lesbos was closed, a 40-year-old Somalian man became the first to test positive for COVID-19, leading to the facility being quarantined.

The man, who has been granted refugee status, recently returned to Moria camp after failing to settle in Athens, the reports said, Kathimerini adding the whole facility, holding more than 13,000 people, being closed off for 14 days.

A team of National Organization of Public Health (EODY) experts was going to be dispatched to the island to try to trace and track his contacts to see how he contracted the virus although it wasn't said if he was put into quarantine.

The early August closing of the virus isolation center generated criticism as it treats other illnesses as well.

In a report, The British newspaper The Guardian said that the charity Médecins San Frontières (MSF) said it was forced to close the center after authorities imposed fines and potential charges.

There are more than 34,000 people in camps and centers on five Greek islands near the Turkish coast, almost all seeking asylum after the European Union closed its borders to them and other countries reneged on promises to help take some of the overload and as a 2016 swap deal with Turkey has essentially been suspended.

The story noted that the doctors treat a number of cases at the center that has been shut, the staff saying it will deprive people of often critically-needed care, including those with serious medical conditions.

“Only highly severe cases can be transferred to the mainland,” Babis Anitsakis, director of infectious diseases at the hospital in Mytilene, told the Guardian. 

Earlier in August, there was the first case of the Coronavirus at an overcrowded refugee and migrant camp on Chios, where some 3,800 people live in a facility designed for only one-third that number, making safe social distancing essentially impossible.

Dozens of cases have been reported in the camps on five islands near Turkey which lets human traffickers keep sending refugees and migrants who had gone to that country first fleeing war and strife in their homelands.

That violates a technically-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union which closed its borders to them, dumping the problem on Greece during an economic and austerity crisis and the pandemic as well.


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