Greece reports first COVID-19 refugee death since pandemic began

The 61-year-old Afghan father of two died in hospital in Athens where he had been receiving treatment.

: Afghan child refugees play outside tents in a refugee camp
Afghan children play outside tents in the Malakasa refugee camp [File: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images]

A 61-year-old man from Afghanistan died of COVID-19 on Sunday, the first reported death of a refugee from the disease in Greece since the pandemic began there in late February, a government official told Reuters.

The man, a father of two children, lived at the Malakasa migrant camp, and died in hospital in Athens where he had been receiving treatment, the official said.

Authorities were tracing his contacts, according to the official. It was not immediately clear how long he had been in hospital.

The Malakasa camp, which is about 40km north of Athens and hosts about 3,000 people, has been under quarantine since September 7 after positive tests for the new coronavirus.

Greece has been the main gateway into the European Union for people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and beyond. More than a million people reached its shores from Turkey in 2015-16.

At least 110,000 people currently live in temporary facilities – 40,000 of them in overcrowded camps on five islands. Many have been sealed off or movement further restricted to curb the spread of the virus.

Moria, on the island of Lesbos and the biggest camp in Greece, burned down earlier this month, leaving about 12,000 people stranded. Most of them have now moved to a temporary tent camp on the island.

Greece reported 218 COVID-19 cases on Sunday and three deaths, bringing the total number of cases since the first case surfaced late February to 17,444.

Source: Reuters