Notwithstanding Greece's relative success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, migrant reception centers across the country remain a concern as potential hotbeds for outbreaks, particularly on the Aegean islands where facilities are overcrowded and social distancing rules are all but impossible to enforce.
In comments to Skai television on Saturday, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis conceded that the situation with "open facilities" on the islands is "difficult" as they cannot be effectively guarded.
However, he indicated that the overall situation is relatively under control with a total of 200 cases of Covid-19 recorded at three mainland facilities – Kranidi, Ritsona and Malakasa – out of the 93 sites hosting some 100,000 migrants across the country. Fortunately none of those 200 cases is serious, he added.
As for the five migrants who broke the quarantine imposed on the Malakasa camp and the 10 people arrested in connection with a riot that at the Vial facility on Chios the weekend before last, Mitarakis said that orders had been given for any asylum applications lodged by those individuals to be assessed more strictly and for a review in cases where asylum has been granted.
Meanwhile, Athens University epidemiologist Athena Linos told Kathimerini that with the risk of a potential outbreak in migrant camps so high, a good move would be to task residents of such facilities who have health training to brief fellow residents of the risks of Covid-19.
"Each culture has a different understanding of the risk," she said. "It's important how you convey the information to influence and change people's behavior."