Greece quarantines migrants to contain coronavirus

Greece said that migrant reception and processing centres on the Greek islands will be in lockdown for at least the next two weeks as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, reported Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Wednesday. 

All special activities and facilities in the camps will be suspended - including schools, libraries, and exercise areas. New arrivals will be checked for coronavirus symptoms and quarantined if necessary.

Camp residents will be discouraged from leaving or moving around the camps - even to get supplies, said Kathimerini.

Last week the medical aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said that refugees held in the squalid camps on Greek islands are especially vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus and should be evacuated immediately

“Given the lack of adequate sanitation services and severely limited medical care at these entry points, the risk of the virus spreading amongst the inhabitants of the camps is extremely high once they have been exposed,” said MSF.

Camps on the Greek islands currently hold around 42,000 asylum seekers.

European leaders were expected to pressure Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to curb the inflow of migrants into Greece during a video conference call on Tuesday between Erdoğan and the leaders of France, Germany, and Britain to discuss the migration crisis and the situation in Syria.

Erdoğan was expected to seek additional financial compensation to assist migrants during the call. Ankara has accused the European Union of failing to pay Turkey the 6 billion euros in full that it pledged in financial assistance to aid refugees in exchange for curbing the flow of migrants to the EU under a 2016 agreement.

No information has yet been released on the outcome of the meeting, said Kathimerini.