Migrants, Volunteers Prepare For Possible COVID-19 Outbreak At Mexican Border Camp

More than 1,500 men, women and children currently live in a camp  for asylum seekers forced to remain in Matamoros, Mexico.

By Reynaldo Leaños Jr.May 19, 2020 9:30 am, , , , ,

From Texas Public Radio:

Dr. Dairon Elisondo Rojas is walking around a new 20-bed tented hospital at the south end of a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico.

“This is going to be the hospital for the COVID-19 patients,” he said as he led a tour of the facility.

There’s medical equipment all around, a tarp-like floor, COVID antibody tests and cardiac monitors. The hospital opened about two weeks ago on April 30.

Dairon is a doctor at the camp and a volunteer with Global Response Management (GRM), a nonprofit that provides medical services at the camp and is running the hospital. He’s also an asylum seeker from Cuba. He and GRM are the camp’s front-line medical responders.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary, knowing we’re about to embark on something that has killed a lot of doctors and nurses in other areas,” he said. “But it’s our job. It’s the job that we chose and if we don’t help them, who else will?”

Thousands of asylum seekers continue to wait in Mexico under the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, which requires them to remain there for months as their asylum cases unfold in U.S. immigration court.

Medical experts and volunteers at the camp worry that COVID-19 could spread like wildfire among the more than 1,500 men, women and children living there if the virus makes its way into the camp.

The field hospital is just one of the latest precautions to arrive at the camp to protect migrants against the virus.

“Currently we have not had any patients that we have admitted,” said Helen Perry the executive director of GRM. “We have two patients that we went ahead and isolated due to their symptoms and they were tested by the government, so we’re keeping them in isolation until those tests come back, just out of an abundance of caution.”

Perry said the majority of COVID-19 cases in Matamoros originated near the camp and the fact that they haven’t had any positive cases at the camp is a testament to their safety measures.

GRM has five full-time staff members and several volunteers, but would like to provide more services.

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