GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Migrants deported on Monday to Guatemala from the United States are being held in a temporary shelter at the main airport in the central American nation, authorities said, because three minors on the flight developed fever, a key symptom of coronavirus.
Guatemala, with 36 infections and one death, closed its borders in mid-March to halt spread of the virus, before it resumed flights ferrying home Guatemalans deported from the United States.
Authorities said the three minors were taken to hospital for a checkup and virus test while the other 77 Guatemalans had their temperature taken and will spend the night at the airport awaiting the results.
The incident comes a day after Guatemala reported that a migrant deported on Friday, also from the United States, tested positive for the virus.
Officials of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
“The people who came on the flight as well as migration officials, are isolated while they’re awaiting instructions from the health ministry,” said Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman for the Guatemalan Migration Institute.
It is the second time migrants have been held in the temporary shelter of the capital’s La Aurora International Airport. On March 23, health personnel reported two cases of fever in adults from the Texas city of El Paso.
“How can it be that people who may be sick are being deported?” asked Juan Jose Hurtado, director of the Guatemalan migrant association Pop Noj. “What they’re doing is compounding the problem.”
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(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Clarence Fernandez)