U.S.-Mexico border refugee camp reports 1st COVID-19 case, raising alarms over spread

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A person has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in a sprawling refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border where an estimated 2,000 people await their immigration court dates, according to a non-profit group providing medical care at the camp.

Global Response Management said in a statement Tuesday that the positive test came back Monday for one person and negative for three family members. Tests are pending for two other people.

Residents in the camp in Matamoros, Mexico, live in squalid conditions: Most sleep in tents or underneath tarps, and there’s little access to running water. The non-profit group has long warned that a single case of the coronavirus could spread quickly.

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“The presence of COVID-19 in an already vulnerable population exposed to the elements could potentially be catastrophic,” the group said in a statement.

The people living in the camp are mostly awaiting court dates just across the border in Brownsville, Texas, under a Trump administration program known as “Remain in Mexico.” Instituted last year along the border, the “Remain” program has sent tens of thousands of people seeking asylum back to Mexico instead of allowing them to await their court dates in the U.S.

There have been numerous reports of migrants being kidnapped, attacked, or extorted while waiting their court dates.

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© 2020 The Canadian Press

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