Scores of refugees test positive for virus in Lisbon shelter

By: AFP      Published: 05:53 PM, 20 Apr, 2020
Scores of refugees test positive for virus in Lisbon shelter
A man puts a blanket on his bed at the Casal Vistoso sports hall converted into a temporary shelter for the homeless as part of an emergency plan in Lisbon. AFP

More than 130 refugees housed in a youth hostel in Portugal's capital Lisbon have been infected by the new coronavirus and placed in quarantine, the mayor's office said on Monday.

Portugal has granted immigrants awaiting regularisation of their papers and asylum seekers the same rights as residents, in particular access to medical care during a state of emergency decreed last month to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Out of a total of some 180 tenants, 138 tested positive and they were relocated and placed in quarantine, the municipality said. The hostel was evacuated on Sunday after the case of a man who had been hospitalised was reported, Lisbon deputy mayor Carlos Costa told reporters.

According to local media, the refugees are all men who have applied for asylum in Portugal. "They are young people from Egypt, Ivory Coast and other regions of the world," Mohamed Abed, an official at a Lisbon mosque, told RTP public television.

The establishment located in central Lisbon has been disinfected by firefighters and refugees who tested negative have moved back there. Portugal's state of emergency, in force since March 19, has been extended to May 2 as part of measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.

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