The refugee camp in the town of Ellwangen hosts inmates from 24 countries/Photo: Anonymous

Coronavirus: Half of refugees at German camp test positive

Nearly half of the roughly 600 people at a refugee camp in Germany have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19). The number of cases among residents of the country’s initial reception facility (Landeserstaufnahmeeinrichtung or LEA) in the town of Ellwangen, which has been under quarantine, increased from seven to 251 within two weeks. The town is situated in Baden-Wurttemberg, a state in south-western Germany.

Neither the Interior Ministry nor the Stuttgart Regional Council could explain this phenomenon in the refuge camp with a total of more than 560 residents.

The first infected person was identified and isolated on 27 March ago, said the Interior Ministry in Stuttgart. None of the infected, including children, had yet to be transferred to a clinic, as the district office announced. Also, 21 employees had also tested positive for the corona virus, the authorities say, expressing surprise that the highly infectious virus had spread in such an explosive manner in the camp.

A spokeswoman for the regional council that runs the facility for the country called the development surprising because all necessary measures had been taken and the residents of the accommodation sensitized and provided with multilingual information since the beginning of March.

However, critics say it’s not a surprise that the virus spread in such a manner since the inmates are forced to live in close quatres and they share facilities, such as showers and canteens.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the government was that the risk of spreading the virus was higher where many people lived together. That is why, at the beginning of the crisis, the refugees were increasingly transferred to the district’s alternative accommodation, he added.

Meanwhile, the refugee camp has been placed under curfew, enforced by the police, with nobody allowed to go in or out to contain the spread of the virus.

Felix Dappah

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