'People not Walls' is extremely concerned about the risk of the coronavirus spreading through the migrant population of Calais and the North of France and the risks which this entails for others.
The flow of migrants converging on the Calais region, where they survive in precarious conditions, poses the question of a growing health risk.
There are already a few confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Nord Pas de Calais region, and given the unsanitary conditions and the lack of washing facilities, we are concerned that the number of viral infections may get out of control in an unprotected environment.
The worsening conditions in Greece and Turkey have led the associations which support the exiles to forecast an increase in their number in the coming weeks.
These people survive in conditions that favour the onset and spread of infectious diseases (cold, humidity, stress, fatigue, overcrowding in light tents and a lack of clean, dry clothing due to the repeated removal of tents by the police) . The coronavirus can strongly affect people who are already sick (for example, bronchitis, head colds, etc.). Volunteers are neither trained nor equipped to detect symptoms and properly advise exiles.
Our colleagues in France regret that the containment measures proposed are not adapted to the living conditions of migrants, whose main concern is not for their health but to reach the United Kingdom. They have not been assured that there are adequate facilities to care for those affected and there is therefore a potential risk that people who test positive will infect others when they travel around Calais and attempt to reach the UK, rather at rest and self-isolate.
Barbara Kentish, Acting Coordinator of 'People not Walls', said: "We are very concerned that, given the rapid spread of this virus, migrants who sleep mainly outdoors and without sanitation are at great risk . We call on the French authorities to take the necessary precautions, not only for migrants, but also for those who try as far as possible to provide them with basic aid every day."
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