İrem UZUN -TDO- Authorities in Greece have placed the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos under quarantine after the confirmation of the first coronavirus infection in the notoriously overcrowded facility. The case concerns a 40-year-old male who recently returned to Moria from Athens.
The 40-year-old Somali is the first confirmed coronavirus case at the Moria camp, which as of Aug. 31 housed 12,714 people, several times its capacity of 2,757. The ministry said no entry or exit from the camp would be allowed until Sept. 15 and that the police presence would be increased around the camp to fully enforce the lockdown.
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. However, he returned in recent days and had been living in a tent outside the camp fence. He is currently hospitalized in isolation on Lesvos. Since March 1, all migrants who reach Lesbos have been quarantined away from the island’s camps.
The International Rescue Committee aid group called for vulnerable people to be evacuated from Moria. “Overcrowding and limited access to clean water and washing facilities have left tens of thousands of people across the Greek islands vulnerable and exposed to the virus,” the IRC said in a statement. “COVID-19 could spread rapidly and those at risk, including the elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions, must be urgently evacuated to safety before it is too late.”
Several non-fatal coronavirus cases have surfaced in Greek camps on the mainland, including 150 infections at a migrant hotel in the Peloponnese in April. Last month, another infection in a camp on the island of Chios was reported involving a 35-year-old man from Yemen.