No visitors, including members of organizations and agencies, will be allowed into the migrant reception and processing centers on the Greek islands for the next two weeks at least, the Migration Ministry said yesterday, announcing a series of measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in any of the facilities.
The measures also include the suspension of all special activities and facilities in the camp like schools, libraries and exercise areas, while new arrivals will be checked for a fever and other symptoms of Covid-19 at the door and confined to quarantine if found to be ailing.
The ministry said it will post updates and instructions for to the five island camps’ residents twice a day in Arabic, Farsi, English, French and Greek. Sanitation will also be bolstered to ensure that all common-use areas are regularly cleaned.
Camp residents will further be discouraged from venturing outside the facilities – even for getting supplies – but also from circulating within them without good reason.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) last week called on the Greek authorities to evacuate all the camps and transfer their residents to the mainland in order to prevent an outbreak inside the woefully overcrowded and understaffed facilities.
“In some parts of Moria camp there is just one water tap for every 1,300 people and no soap available. Families of five or six have to sleep in spaces of no more than 3m2,” Dr Hilde Vochten, MSF’s medical coordinator in Greece, said in an announcement, referring to the notorious camp on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos. “This means that recommended measures such as frequent hand washing and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus are just impossible.”
“Given the lack of adequate sanitation services and the severely limited medical care, the risk of the virus spreading amongst the inhabitants of the camps in Greece is extremely high once they have been exposed,” MSF said.