About 200 migrants in a jungle camp has been isolated in Panama to contain the outbreak of coronavirus among a larger group of Cubans, Haitians and Africans stranded by the pandemic the region of Darien.

Some migrants put on blue surgical face masks on, lay under tarps or in tents, enclosed in a chain link fence, during a visit to the camp of Lajas Blanca’s on Friday. Masks, gowns and hair covers were put on by medical workers which made the rounds taking temperature and blood pressure measurements.

Over 90 individuals on May, who were tested positive for coronavirus along with family members and close companions were quarantined in the camp by authorities.
Out of the four migrants Reuters spoke with at the camp, Cuban Francisco Turcas said malnutrition had sickened some members of the group. For weeks now they had been in government facilities since emerging from the jungle into Panama on a long trek across the Americas.

“There are children, pregnant women, old people here. There are already many who have diarrhea,” he said.

Migrants aren’t allow to leave the facilities without permission, though they may buy supplies from stores nearby.


Panamanian Security Minister Juan Pino, when askedked about the migrants’ living conditions said the migrants were in good hands. Just six of them are still tested positive of the virus, he said.
When Latin American countries began shutting borders to halt the spread of coronavirus in March, about 2,500 migrants were stranded in Panama

Coming from as far as the Democratic Republic of Congo, they followed an existing path to the United States that crosses much of South America and involves a dangerous walking journey that is across Darien Gap, a famously impenetrable jungle stretch from Colombia to Panama.

Pino said the migrants must be patient as they wait to resume their journeys as majority remain in camps in Panama’s Darien province.

“They have come from different parts of the world with the intention of traveling north,” he said. “They have to understand that right now all the borders are closed, because right now the world is facing the virus. And the only way to fight it is to avoid mobility.”

In another center in Darien called La Penita, a larger number of migrants are staying there. Panama’s national border agency said it imposed unspecified new security measures earlier this month, after migrants turned violent during repeated attempts to leave La Penita.
The government will soon begin the construction of a new shelter with room for more than 500 people, Pino added.

A Haitian migrant who has been in the camps since early May, Wesley Lalune, said he tested positive for the virus but has since recovered. He said he and his family are convenient and satisfied with camp conditions.

“Doctors come to ask if anyone has fever everyday, if anyone is in pain,” he said. “I am doing well, more or less.”

 

 

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