Migrants wearing masks in front of a reception center in Italy | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA
Migrants wearing masks in front of a reception center in Italy | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA

Prosecutors in Treviso are investigating a migrant center in the former military barracks 'Serena di Casier' in the northeastern Veneto city after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed from two to 257 in less than two months. The center's management was accused of failing to separate migrants who had tested positive for the virus from the other guests.

Prosecutors in the northeastern city of Treviso said on August 9 that they have opened an investigation into a migrant hosting center where the number of coronavirus cases has spiked. 

The former military barracks 'Serena di Casier' registered a sharp rise in coronavirus cases -- from two to 257, nearly all the guests at the facility -- in less than two months. "We want to understand what was done and what was lacking in the management of the migrants after the first positive cases were discovered," said prosecutor Michele Dalla Costa. 

Investigators focus attention on company managing the center 

Prosecutor Giulio Caprarola, who is coordinating the probe, is focusing in particular on the Nova Facility company managing the center, investigative sources said. 

The company's president, Gianlorenzo Marinese, said he had learned from the newspapers about the probe. "We are absolutely certain that we acted in a correct manner," he said, adding he had no further comment as a sign of respect for "the work of magistrates."

Veneto Governor Luca Zaia, however, said "numbers coming out of this type of facility," also referring to a migrant hosting center in the Veneto city of Jesolo, "show that healthcare security is not guaranteed." 

A total of 42 migrants hosted in Red Cross facilities in Jesolo tested positive for COVID-19 last month. An employee also tested positive, for a total of 43 infections.

Zaia went on to say that, "at the moment, we have to deal with the major issue of controlling outbreaks at these hosting centers, something that we are doing through testing. Obviously, we will reach a point where all guests are negative."

Nevertheless the governor said that this type of hosting facility "needs to be eliminated as it provides for groups that are not in line with anti-COVID rules." 

A situation that degenerated 

The general director of the local health authority in Treviso (Ulss2), Francesco Benazzi, accused the managers of the Casier center of failing to separate migrants who had tested positive for the virus from the other guests after their refusal to be quarantined, a situation that led to a spike in cases. 

After 133 infections were discovered at the center last week, the situation "degenerated," Benazzi said. Guests who tested positive were "allegedly not placed in separate areas of the center" from those who didn't, the director added. 

"They refused to be placed in isolation, as operators at the facility explicitly admitted." This occurred "despite the fact that Ulss ordered to create a block in an isolated area with showers and bathrooms," concluded Benazzi.
 

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