Over the last few weeks, our needs assessment team has been on the ground preparing our response to the growing threat that COVID-19 poses to the thousands of migrants and refugees living in camps both on mainland Greece and the Aegean Islands.
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly expanding across Europe and Greece. Our team has identified the most urgent need in Moria camp, Lesvos – where 20,000 people are living in inhumane conditions. Unless we act quickly, the disease will have devastating consequences. At the time of writing there have been three COVID-19 confirmed cases on the island of Lesvos from the local Greek population. Modelling predicts cases amongst migrants by mid-April. The window of opportunity for us to take meaningful pre-emptive action is closing.
We are already seeing outbreaks in the smaller, less densely populated camps. Twenty-three migrants in one week have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Ritsona open accommodation site in Central Greece which hosts 2,700 people, along with a first case in Malakasa Camp.
As we’ve seen in the UK, COVID-19 is more infectious than seasonal flu and can produce a severe respiratory syndrome in vulnerable groups such as adults over 65 years and those with underlying chronic conditions, resulting in a need for hospitalisation and critical care. One tap in Moria Camp serves 1,300 people, making basic hygiene such as hand washing an impossible task. Diseases related to overcrowding and lack of sanitation are growing. Increased fear, restriction in movement and poor risk communication are leading to outbreaks of violence. An unchecked outbreak will have unthinkable consequences.
New UK-Med team members have been on the ground in Lesvos, and we have been offering technical advice to partners constructing much-needed isolation facilities inside Moria Camp for the families of COVID-19 positive patients.
We’ve built our team and are now fundraising for the next steps of our response. With your help we will:
- Coordinate activities and COVID-19 response strategy and reporting in Moria in order to reach the greatest number of patients.
- Screening and early identification of cases, early access to services for the vulnerable.
- Provide isolation and case management for patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
- Train staff in proper use of PPE and implement infection prevention and control measures that will keep both staff and patients safe.
- Implement mobile outreach activities including follow up of mild patients, post-discharge care and contact tracing.
- Engage the camp community with messages promoting health, communicating risk and educating on infectious disease prevention.
We can only provide these life-saving interventions with your help. We’re urgently seeking funding to get our team out the door. You can donate to our COVID-19 response here.
UK-Med has been supporting partners with technical advice on the construction of isolation facilities in the Olive Grove, Moria Camp, Lesvos, Greece