Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Monday that, although migrants have started gathering along the Turkish coastline opposite the islands of the eastern Aegean, there are no indications that they are infected with coronavirus, as some media reports had suggested over the weekend.
“We knew from the outset that Turkey would keep on the pressure,” Mitarakis told Mega television channel. “After the initial strong reaction of Greece in Evros and the islands, we may have had a very significant drop in arrivals from the beginning of March, but we knew that at some point the influx would return and so we remain on alert,” he said.
“Some migrants have gathered on the Turkish coast without any confirmation, however, as the Greek newspapers have written, that they are carriers of coronavirus,” he added.
The minister added that Greek authorities would do everything possible to prevent any crossings by smuggling boats in the Aegean.
“We remain on alert for the guarding of national borders but also the protection of reception centers from the coronavirus,” he said.
Any migrants that do arrive on the Greek islands will be put under quarantine for 14 days.
In comments on Skai television, Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis said that Greek authorities had managed to significantly curb arrivals from Turkey and that inspections would continue.
An area of concern is the new tactic of Turkish smugglers, seen in the recent incident off the island of Tzia, using cargo ships to carry large numbers of migrants to Greece.