Protest by citizens of the town of Amantea in southern Italy after the discovery of 25 coronavirus cases among migrants hosted at the town's migrant reception center on September 2, 2020 | Photo: ANSA
Protest by citizens of the town of Amantea in southern Italy after the discovery of 25 coronavirus cases among migrants hosted at the town's migrant reception center on September 2, 2020 | Photo: ANSA

Residents of the southern Italian town of Amantea staged a new protest on Wednesday after 25 migrants tested positive for the coronavirus at the town's migrant reception center. The protest ended after members of the Italian armed forces and law enforcement were sent to guard the facility.

New protests took place on Wednesday, September 2, in the Calabria region in southern Italy after 25 migrants tested positive for coronavirus at the "Ninfa Marina" reception center in the coastal town of Amantea.

On Monday, after three migrants tested positive, an additional 97 tests were carried out by personnel working with a Special Continuity Care Unit (USCA) -- teams of doctors established to provide assistance for coronavirus outpatients -- on residents at the migrant reception center in the town.

After the first results came back on Wednesday, local residents protested as they had in July, when they demonstrated against the arrival of migrants who had tested positive for COVID-19. This time, however, the protest didn't cause a roadblock on State Road 18 as it had in July.

About a hundred people in peaceful protest

About a hundred residents and business people participated in the peaceful protest. They called for the immediate transfer of the migrants and the closure of the reception center.

"The problem is that until this morning [Wednesday], these young men went out and went to work in the fields, without any checks. We are worried just for this, for everyone's health," one of the protesters said.

Law enforcement guarded the facility to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. The migrants who tested positive were placed in quarantine in rooms inside the reception center.

Army to guard migrant centers in Amantea and Rende

The protest in Amantea ended after news broke about the decision by the Provincial Committee for Order and Public Safety to send law enforcement personnel and army soldiers to guard the migrant reception center in Amantea as well as an additional facility in the town of Rende, some 25 kilometers away.

The decision was made during a meeting attended by representatives from the armed forces, the mayor of Rende, the extraordinary commission that manages the town of Amantea, the Cosenza ASP health department as well as one representative each from the two cooperatives that manage the facilites in Amantea and Rende participated.

A statement from the prefecture said the meeting focused on "isolation measures and active oversight adopted in the centers regarding guests under mandatory quarantine due to positive tests." In Rende, one worker and 15 migrants tested positive. Two more were hospitalized in the infectious diseases unit at Cosenza's Annunziata Hospital.

The Provincial Committee for Order and Public Safety had noted that the facilities were "resorting to personnel from private security firms." Another reason for sending law enforcement personnel and the army was the "implementation of containment measures and safeguards for the spread of the COVID-19 virus among all guests" at the facilities.
 

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