NGO Claims Around Half of Migrants on Paris Streets May Be Coronavirus Positive

Paris town hall workers clear a migrant makeshift camp, in Paris, Wednesday, May 30, 2018. The mainly African migrants were being moved out of their tent camp along a canal used by joggers and cyclists on the city’s northeast edge, put in buses and taken to gymnasiums in the Paris …
AP Photo/Thibault Camus

According to NGO Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF), 55 per cent of those living on the streets of the Paris region might be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, the vast majority of them migrants.

MSF said they tested a sample of 818 people in accommodation homes and homeless shelters in the Paris region and that 90 per cent of those tested were migrants.

Corinne Torre, head of the France mission at MSF, told the French newspaper Le Figaro: “The results show a huge prevalence. The main reason is the promiscuity and housing conditions that have generated clusters, for example in gymnasiums where these people were sheltered at the dawn of widespread confinement.”

The study also showed different rates of infection at various sites. Two migrant workers’ homes have an 88.7 per cent infection rate, ten homeless shelters had a 50.5 per cent rate, and food distribution sites had a 27.8 per cent rate.

The rates of infection are still much higher in all the areas tested than the average rate across France, which ranges from five to ten per cent. In the city of Paris, the infection rate is slightly higher at 12 per cent.

The risk of migrants catching and spreading coronavirus has been a major issue in other European countries, particularly in Italy, where newly arrived migrants have tested positive for the Chinese virus.

In August, Italian Minister for Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia inadvertently revealed that as many as 25 per cent of the coronavirus cases at the time were foreigners.

Another issue facing the Italian government has been not only finding space to quarantine migrants who arrive, but also dealing with migrants who attempt to or successfully escape accommodations under lockdown.

Last month, a group of migrants being housed at a reception centre in Sicily set fires to protest the quarantine measures, causing panic among the migrants and staff. Two Tunisians even attempted to throw themselves out of windows to escape the housing, but fractured bones and ended up in the hospital instead.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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