A migrant in the tent camp set up on the outskirts of Trieste for the mandatory quarantine of new arrivals, due to coronavirus | Photo: ANSA/MAURO ZOCCHI
A migrant in the tent camp set up on the outskirts of Trieste for the mandatory quarantine of new arrivals, due to coronavirus | Photo: ANSA/MAURO ZOCCHI

The Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS) is calling on authorities in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which borders Slovenia, to not create alarmism over possible COVID-19 contagion due to the arrival of refugees on the Balkan route.

The Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS) released a statement urging against creating alarmism regarding COVID-19 contagion from refugees and asylum seekers entering Italy.

"Causing alarm among people in order to gain a paltry political consensus is serious and irresponsible behavior that aims to cover the inability shown by the regional administration in managing the health emergency, like what happened in the case of nursing homes or assisted living facilities and with the grotesque case of the ferry that made our region look ridiculous throughout Italy," ICS said. 

ICS said its statement came in "relation to statements by the governor of the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (FVG), Giulia Fedriga, and regional councillor Riccardo Riccardi on possible COVID-19 contagion by refugees arriving on the Balkan route."

ICS highlighted that "all asylum seekers, without exception, are placed under health supervision and a 14-day period of quarantine in order to exclude the presence of pathogens connected to COVID-19". 

'No case registered among asylum seekers in Trieste' 

ICS said that between January and May 2020, the humanitarian medical association Donk, in coordination with the health department, conducted more than 900 exams and 18 COVID tests on suspected cases. 

"No case of COVID-19 was registered in Trieste among asylum seekers. Of course, no one can exclude the possibility that there may be future cases among migrants, as in any other sector of the Italian population, but the reception system and health oversight are operative 24 hours a day and are adequate for responding to demand," ICS said. 

Riccardi (FVG) says Balkan route a risk for infections 

On Tuesday, Riccardo Riccardi, deputy governor of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (FVG), who is responsible for the health portfolio, issued a statement regarding the new spike in cases in some Balkan countries. 

"The Balkan route is generating a lot of concern, because it is an out-of-control flow of people, with many young people who, if they have COVID, are very likely asymptomatic and therefore sources of possible infections," Riccardi said. 

He said the increase in COVID cases in Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia is being controlled and monitored by the individual countries, "while what is completely lacking is the verification of the health conditions of those who enter illegally and aren't intercepted at the borders by law enforcement." 

"This is why a uniform European policy, one more attentive to this problem, is needed, because the risk, as we have learned, can be contained by tracing and managing outbreaks. That's why uncontrolled passages from one border to another at our front door is cause for serious concern," he said. 

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