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Greece reports first coronavirus case in Moria migrant camp on Lesbos

Greece reports first coronavirus case in Moria migrant camp on Lesbos
An image taken with a drone shows the refugee camp of Moria, on Lesvos island, Greece, 22 January 2020. At the camp, which is meant to host 2,500 migrants and refugees, nowdays are living more than 20,000 people in poor conditions. The entire island of Lesvos among with Chios and Samos are holding a 24-hour strike on 22 January to protest the migration situation as thousands of asylum seekers are stranded there in unbearable situation and low temperatures. EPA-EFE/DIMITRIS TOSIDIS

ATHENS, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Greece recorded its first coronavirus case in the overcrowded migrant camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos and the facility has been placed under a two-week quarantine, the government said on Wednesday. A 40-year old asylum seeker has tested positive for the virus and has been placed in isolation, and authorities were trying to trace the people he had contacted, an official at the migration ministry said.

The Moria facility, which hosts about 13,000 people – more than four times its stated capacity – has been frequently criticised by aid groups for poor living conditions.

The International Rescue Committee called for an urgent increase in healthcare and sanitation services on Lesbos, including sufficient space for isolation and quarantine.

“Social distancing and basic hygiene measures like handwashing are simply impossible to adhere to in Moria, where thousands of people live in close proximity to each other with inadequate access to running water and soap,” said Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, the IRC Greece director.

Since March 1, all migrants reaching Lesbos have been quarantined away from the island’s camps.

Greece has recorded 10,757 COVID-19 cases since the first infection in February, and 273 COVID-related deaths.

In recent weeks it has suffered a surge in cases, which has forced Greek authorities to gradually reimpose restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Lesbos is situated just off the coast of Turkey and hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees have used the island as a staging post in recent years in their attempt to get to mainland Europe. (Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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