Describing the problem posed by a burgeoning population of undocumented immigrants in central Athens as “a ticking time bomb for public health,” Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and Health Minister Andreas Loverdos announced on Sunday that all migrants will henceforth need a health certificate proving that they have no infectious diseases.
In a joint press conference, unusually held on a Sunday, the two ministers heralded a new legislative provision according to which teams of experts from the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) are to start conducting checks on migrants with a focus on those living in cramped and unsanitary conditions in central Athens.
Those found to be suffering from infectious diseases including tuberculosis, cholera, yellow fever, leprosy, syphilis, malaria and diphtheria will be transferred to hospital for treatment in segregated areas.
The list of hospitals to be involved in the scheme is to be announced Monday, the ministers said.
On Saturday, Chrysochoidis said that the first of 30 detention centers for undocumented migrants would start operating this month, adding that legislation foreseeing the creation of three such centers in each of the country’s 10 mainland prefectures would be submitted in Parliament this week.
Chrysochoidis is to travel to Brussels on Monday for an “emergency meeting” with European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. The minister is expected to reassure the commissioner of the Greek government’s political will to curb the influx of undocumented immigrants seeking to enter the European Union via Greece.
Greece is facing the threat of ejection from the 25-state Schengen area of passport-free travel amid accusations of inadequately policing its borders and allowing undocumented migrants to make their way to other EU member states.