Greece has announced that it will be extending lockdown measures by a week. The Greek government said that the move will delay the planned removal of hundreds of migrants from congested camps.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the extension of the lockdown in Greece until May 4 will mean that the planned removal of hundreds of asylum seekers from overcrowded migrant camps on the Greek islands will now have to be postponed. Elderly and ill migrants will be most affected by the change.
Local officials on Lesbos said that one of the largest transfers of migrants, involving 1,500 people from the island’s largest camp, Moria, and another 900 others from elsewhere on Lesbos, will now be delayed and scaled back in size. The move was planned for Saturday.
Greece has already transferred some 10,000 people in the first quarter of 2020, but in April managed to only move 627 migrants away from the unsanitary conditions at island camps. NGOs like Human Rights Watch have issues warnings saying that a potential COVID-19-related health crisis could ensue if the issue of camp decongestion was not immediately addressed.COVID-19 among migrant population
Despite strict quarantine measures across the country, there have been several coronavirus cases recorded in migrant facilities in Greece. Roughly 150 people have tested positive this week at two camps and a migrant hotel on the Greek mainland.
So far, there have been no cases reported at migrant camps on the Greek islands; however, authorities on the islands say they only have limited capacities available for screening procedures.
Slow return to normality
Greece is set to introduce a partial reopening of courts and land registers on April 27, though it remains unclear whether during this relaxation of lockdown rules asylum cases will already be assessed in courts.
Under the current lockdown rules, which are now extended until May 4, Greek citizens must inform authorities when they are planing to leave their homes for necessities such as going to banks or supermarkets (which remain open), or they will risk fines.The country has managed to keep fatalities at a low level after registering its first virus death on March 12, introducing country-wide lockdown measures ten days later. Greece has so far recorded 121 coronavirus-related deaths, with 55 people still remaining in intensive care.With AFP