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Coronavirus: Calls for evacuating Greek refugee camps

March 13, 2020 at 8:15 pm

A refugee woman sits next to a tent in Nea Kavala camp, near the city of Kilkis, northern Greece, on September 3, 2019. [SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP via Getty Images]

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called for the immediate evacuation of asylum seekers in squalid camps on the Greek islands saying it could cause a coronavirus outbreak, Anadolu Agency reports.

“The overcrowded and horrific living conditions in the camps – or hotspots – on the Greek islands provide the perfect storm for a COVID-19 outbreak,” the international humanitarian organization said in a statement on Thursday using the official name of the virus.

Earlier this week, a Greek citizen was confirmed to be the first coronavirus case on the island of Lesbos, which currently hosts 19,000 migrants in a camp built to accommodate fewer than 3,000.

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“In some parts of Moria camp there is just one water tap for every 1,300 people and no soap available. Families of five or six have to sleep in spaces of no more than 3 square meters,” said Hilde Vochten, MSF’s Medical Coordinator in Greece.

“This means that recommended measures such as frequent hand washing and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus are just impossible,” the official added.

Currently there are more than 42,000 asylum seekers trapped on the five hotspots on the Greek islands; Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos.