Horror statistics from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) outline how devastating the virus could be if it was contracted within one of the several camps on the idyllic Aegean islands. The IRC predicts, using research compiled by ACAPS, that the disease would rip through the communities after it compared the population density of the Diamond Princess ship and those living in the camp at Moria, Greece. Greece is currently in the midst of a major refugee crisis, after Turkey opened its borders for those living in war torn parts of the globe to get to the entrance of the EU.
Turkey made the move despite a pact with the EU over controlled migration as it did not believe in the bloc’s flawed approach to rehoming them quickly enough when they arrived in Greece.
The latest predictions show that around 100,000 refugees are currently living throughout Greece in tiny camps, with the Aegean islands housing around 45,000 displaced people in conditions fit to hold only 6,000.
The Diamond Princess saw its passengers and crew contract the coronavirus during February this year, sparking worldwide panic that the pandemic could become a genuine threat to human existence.
Debate raged as to how long those people should be left on the cruise liner, given the overcrowded nature of the vessel and a lack of medical understanding of whether cruise goers were virus-free.
It was packed full of 3,700 passengers and crew, and in total 12 people died from the virus aboard, while 712 were confirmed to have had the infection.
After those on board were allowed to disembark, the rate of infection and its spread across the boat was monitored and compared to the original source of coronavirus in Wuhan, which reported the first case on December 31, 2019.
Experts found that the transmission of the virus throughout the ship was four times faster than at the peak of the outbreak in the Chinese city.
And the new analysis by the IRC made for even grimmer reading when that rate was compared to refugee hotspots in countries such as Greece, Syria and Bangladesh.
Marcus Skinner, senior policy adviser for the IRC, said: “The rapid spread of COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess showed how the virus thrives in confined spaces but for millions of displaced people their conditions are far more cramped and poorly serviced and the risks are far deadlier.
“Refugees living in overcrowded camps lack access to adequate healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation, posing major challenges in efforts to protect them from the disease. In some cases, a person’s legal status or gender could also impact whether they are able or willing to access healthcare services.
“However, with urgently needed funding, there are steps that can and must be taken to protect vulnerable and often marginalised camp populations. Increasing access to running water for regular handwashing and identifying isolation areas for those who show symptoms of the virus are critical steps to ensure people can protect themselves.
“Redesigning and building new shelters can reduce the number of families living in small tents or shelters and support social distancing.
“The IRC is scaling up its global response to the outbreak of the virus, including in these severely overcrowded camps, mitigating its spread and thus the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable.
“For example, we have equipped staff in Bangladesh with 18,000 surgical facemasks and installed hand washing points at every programme location. Our global appeal of $30 million (£24million) will enable our teams to continue saving lives in places like Syria, Greece and Bangladesh, while protecting those living there from the devastating impact that coronavirus can have.”