ATHENS (Reuters) – Two migrants who arrived on Greece’s outlying Lesbos island have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, migration ministry sources said on Tuesday, adding they were isolated with no contact with refugee camps on the island.
The individuals had arrived on Lesbos on May 6. Since March 1 anyone arriving on the island has been placed in quarantine at a separate facility with no contact with larger groups of asylum seekers at other facilities on the island, the sources added.
Despite years of austerity which placed strains on the nation’s healthcare system, Greece has contained the COVID-19 outbreak. By Tuesday it had reported 2,744 cases since the outbreak and 152 deaths, a fraction of the infections seen in neighbouring countries.
On May 4, Greece started easing the lockdowns introduced in mid-March.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing conflicts and poverty in their countries used Greece as a springboard towards other European countries in 2015 and 2016, when an EU-brokered accord with Turkey all but halted the flow.
A bottleneck in processing asylum applications left many stuck in the country while asylum applications were examined. The overcrowded Moria facility, on Lesbos, hosted more than 17,500 people by the latest official count on May 11. Aid groups have frequently said living conditions there are dire.
“There is absolutely no connection between this (quarantine) facility and that of Moria,” one migration ministry source said.
(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)