Coronavirus fears raised after five migrants enter Portsmouth from Europe without being quarantined

ILLEGAL migrants are entering Portsmouth from parts of mainland Europe – ravaged by coronavirus – without ‘sensible’ health checks being undertaken, it has been claimed.

By Tom Cotterill
Saturday, 14th March 2020, 3:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th March 2020, 3:46 pm

UK Border Force officials detained five unaccompanied youngsters at Portsmouth International Port on Wednesday morning after they were caught trying to sneak into the UK.

The asylum seekers, who Home Office officials said had fled from Sudan, have since been taken into the care of Portsmouth City Council.

But health fears have been raised by a social care whistleblower at the authority over how the children were dealt with amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic.

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Border force controls at Portsmouth International Port (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The source claimed the youngsters had travelled through Italy, which has the worst outbreak of the disease outside China, with more than 800 deaths and almost 12,500 people infected with Covid-19.

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However, no quarantine procedures were put in place when dealing with the refugees, with the insider warning: ‘Lives are being put at risk unnecessarily.

‘They came through Italy and France and arrived in Portsmouth in the back of lorries. But none of them were quarantined.

Border Force staff check inside the back of a lorry as it arrives at the UK border after leaving a cross-channel ferry in Portsmouth, (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

‘They were given temperature checks and then sent to foster families in Portsmouth.

‘We have to be sensible, this is not sensible…to do absolutely nothing is just dangerous.’

Sarah Daly, deputy director for children and families at the council, said: ‘We took in five vulnerable and traumatised unaccompanied children on Wednesday who had been passed into our care after a health assessment by colleagues from the government's border force and allowed into the UK. There was no evidence to support quarantine or self-isolation.

Portsmouth International Port. Picture : Habibur Rahman

‘We take the safety and wellbeing of our staff extremely seriously. We're working closely with Public Health England and following all official guidance.’

But the council insider demanded more action was taken to protect staff.

‘We all feel like we’re being pushed into a situation that’s really unfair,’ they said.

‘Portsmouth City Council has a duty of care to its employees. But we’re not even being given basic things like hand gel.’

Ms Daly said staff were ‘aware’ of national guidance on washing hands and following good hygiene practices.

She added: ‘National guidance does not recommend using items like masks unless a member of staff is a health and care worker in a clinical setting.’

Portsmouth has 100 unaccompanied children in its care, taking on 12 since the start of the year.

The Home Office insisted migrants were ‘medically assessed’ and that any individuals showing Covid-19 symptoms would be given the ‘appropriate health advice and treatment’.

A spokeswoman added: ‘The group presented themselves as Sudanese nationals and were all claimed minors. They have been passed into the care of social services and their cases will be dealt with according to the immigration rules.’

On Friday Boris Johnson described the pandemic as the ‘worst public health crisis in a generation’.

It has since prompted the cancellation of all Premier League and British football league matches until April.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS