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Two migrants test positive for COVID-19 in overcrowded Greek camp

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Refugees and migrants wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, wait to get on a bus after their arrival at the port of Piraeus, near Athens on May 4, 2020.
Refugees and migrants wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, wait to get on a bus after their arrival at the port of Piraeus, near Athens on May 4, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris
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Greek officials say two migrants in a special quarantine facility for new arrivals on the eastern island of Lesbos have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Authorities said Tuesday the two had arrived on the Aegean Sea island last week when a boat with 51 people on board from Afghanistan and African countries crossed over from Turkey. All 51 were placed in two-week quarantine in the northern part of the island and far from the main, congested migrant camp of Moria where nearly 18,000 people live.

A total of 70 people are in quarantine, including 19 who arrived Sunday.

Officials say the two who tested positive did not display symptoms of COVID-19. Other migrants in the facility and people who come in contact with them are being tested.

No coronavirus infections have been registered so far in Greece's island migrant camps, where tens of thousands live in cramped, often squalid conditions.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in late April that Greek authorities "have not done enough to address the acute overcrowding and lack of health care, access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene products to limit the spread of COVID-19 in camps for asylum seekers."

The NGO called on the government to "urgently identify people in the camps at greater risk" of falling victim to COVID-19 and to house them in alternative accommodation.

Nearly 35,000 migrants and asylum seekers lived in Reception and Identification Centers on the Greek Aegean islands of Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesbos, and Samos as of mid-April, the charity said.

As of Tuesday, the country has recorded 152 deaths from the pandemic and 2,744 confirmed cases, according to a tally kept by the Johns Hopkins University.