Person tests positive for coronavirus at sprawling refugee camp at border

A large refugee camp on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border has reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Global Response Management confirmed one positive case among four family members who were tested; the three others tested all came back negative for the virus. As many as 2,000 migrants live in the camp while awaiting court dates in the U.S., the AP noted.

The camp is a result of the Trump administration’s policy requiring many migrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border to “remain in Mexico” while their immigration claims are processed, a system that has resulted in many living without proper shelter near the border.

At the Matamoros camp where the case was discovered, running water is not available and residents live in close proximity, usually in small tents. Global Response Management warned in a statement that conditions in the camp could cause the virus to spread quickly.

“The presence of COVID-19 in an already vulnerable population exposed to the elements could potentially be catastrophic,” it told the AP.

Mexico’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been criticized, and experts have warned for months that an allegedly unserious attitude taken by top Mexican officials including President Andrés Manuel López Obrador could put migrant communities at risk.

“It will be an absolute miracle if the virus doesn’t sweep through those shelters and camps like a genuine plague. And I don’t see preparations for that underway. When chicken pox swept through the Mexican government shelter in Juarez over the holidays, they just closed it for a few days. I don’t see what good that will do,” Adam Isacson, director of defense oversight for the Washington Office on Latin America, told The Hill in March.

Tags Andrés Manuel López Obrador Coronavirus COVID-19 Immigration Matamoros Mexico refugee camp

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