A thousand African migrants were placed under mandatory quarantine on Sunday after an outbreak of COVID-19 and their camp in the south of Malta was surrounded by police and army trucks to ensure compliance.
Health Minister Chris Fearne told reporters eight cases were confirmed in two days and a risk assessment showed the disease had spread to other migrants as people in the camp lived in close proximity to each other.
“This is not racial discrimination. Quarantine orders are issued to anyone who tests positive and the people around them,” Fearne said. “Quarantine is one of the most important tools the country has to contain coronavirus.”
He said the eight confirmed cases were in isolation. All other migrants in the camp will have to observe quarantine for 14 days.
Arrangements had been made for medical care at the site. Army trucks circle the camp and police are deployed in and around the area.
Home Minister Byron Camilleri said quarantine would be enforced by police as in all other cases in Malta. Anyone breaking quarantine is liable to a 3 000 euro ($3 240) fine.
Malta has reported 227 COVID cases but no fatalities.