File photo taken June 2020 of Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.  Credit : Picture alliance
File photo taken June 2020 of Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Credit : Picture alliance

Greece recorded its first coronavirus case in the overcrowded migrant camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos, two migration ministry officials said on Wednesday. The case concerns a 40-year-old male who recently recently returned to Moria from Athens.

A 40-year-old man from Somalia has tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria migrant and refugee camp on Lesbos, according to reports Wednesday. The man holds refugee status in Greece and recently returned to Moria after failing to settle in Athens, Ekathimerini reports.

The man has been put in isolation and authorities were trying to trace the people he had contacted, an official of the migration ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying. 

A team of the National Organization of Public Health (EODY) is reportedly expected on the island to support tracing measures. 

joint statement by the ministries for asylum, health and civil protection says the camp is to be quarantined for 14 days until at least September 15 and that security staff will be increased to control entry points to the facility.

Technically Moria camp has been under lockdown since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and residents are only allowed out of the camp during certain times of the day to see a doctor or to buy food. Only 150 people are allowed to leave the camp per hour.

Since the beginning of March, all migrants who reach the island have been placed in quarantine away from residents at Moria.

Extremely cramped conditions

The Moria camp is severely overcrowded, hosting about 13,000 people, and has been heavily criticized by aid groups for its poor living conditions. 

NGOs recently warned that an outbreak would hit Moria sooner or later. People live in makeshift tents and containers in extremely cramped conditions, often without access to sanitary facilities. 

Authorities have called on people to wear masks, socially distance, wash their hands, disinfect, and self-isolate if they feel unwell. Caroline Willemen, a member of Doctors without Borders (MSF), said this "is totally unrealistic in Moria." In an interview with DW, Willemen said "Even if people spend as much time as possible in their tents, they still eat three times a day with thousands of other people. The same goes for the restrooms and showers. It is impossible to avoid the masses."

Overall, Greece has recorded 10,524 COVID-19 cases since the first infection in February, and 271 COVID-related deaths, Reuters reports. In recent weeks, cases have surged, and authorities have put in force additional restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.

With Reuters, Ekathimerini, AP


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