Border Force union chief warns of high Covid rates in Channel migrants

Border Force union chief says cross-channel migrants arriving in Britain have Covid rates 20 TIMES higher than those of the UK population

  • Immigration Services Union said 5-10 arrivals per day testing positive for Covid
  • They are often crammed onto small boats, raising risk of spreading infection 
  • 2021 arrivals expected to far outstrip last year’s 8,400 if current rates continue

Cross channel migrants are bringing high levels of Covid with them when the arrive in the UK, a Border Force union official has warned. 

Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, said that staff were reporting between five and 10 arrivals every day were testing positive upon arrival. 

But because the migrants are often crammed onto tiny boats to make the dash a cross from the Continent they were risking spreading the virus to many others.

It came as Home Secretary Priti Patel came under pressure to sort out the crisis at the UK’s borders as the high season for Channel crossings gets underway.

This year the number of arrivals expected to reach the south coast from France will far outstrip last year’s 8,400 if current rates continue.

Ms Moreton told the Times: ‘We have positive arrivals all the time, putting staff and migrants at risk of infection. 

Because the migrants are often crammed onto tiny boats to make the dash a cross from the Continent they risk spreading the virus to many others

Border Force officials guide a pregnant lady ahead of other newly arrived migrants to a holding facility after being picked up in a dinghy in the English Channel this morning

Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, said that staff were reporting between five and 10 arrivals every day were testing positive upon arrival.

‘We have a handful, between five and 10 a day, testing positive, but anyone who has been in close contact with them – and that could be a lot, because of overcrowding – risks catching the virus.’

It’s believed that the infection rate among arrivals could be around three per cent, compared to the UK population rate of 0.16 per cent, the Times reported.

More than 1,000 Channel migrants have arrived in the UK in the past week, while at least 4,300 have landed in the country this year so far. The annual total is expected to exceed the 8,400 who made the journey in 2020. 

Some 250 minors have made the dangerous journey across the Channel this year so far, including 50 over the recent Bank Holiday weekend. They include large numbers of unaccompanied girls, leaving local authorities fearful that they will be targeted by criminal gangs.

The numbers of migrants risking the dangerous journey are rising despite Ms Patel’s pledge in March to overhaul the immigration system and to make illegal Channel crossings ‘unviable’.  

The Home Secretary blamed the spiralling crisis on social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter who allow people-smugglers to use their platforms to advertise their criminal services. One video showing migrants travelling from Calais to Dover has been seen more than 800,000 on Chinese-owned TikTok.  

In the strongly worded letter which has been seen by this newspaper, Ms Patel asks the internet giants to ‘put an end to the exploitation of your platforms by criminals involved in organised immigration crime’ as more people than ever are making ‘incredibly dangerous journeys across the Channel’. 

At the weekend, Ms Patel ordered an urgent investigation after a Border Force boat brought dinghy migrants from French waters to Dover.

The UK’s 140ft cutter Valiant headed to the French side of the Channel and launched a fast inflatable boat to collect migrants and take them to Dover after discussions with local authorities.

The incident  at the end of May was orchestrated between senior crew members of HMC Valiant and French patrol ship Athos.

During a revealing maritime radio conversation, a recording of which was obtained by the Mail this week, the officers discuss the ‘legality’ of the operation. 

Source: Read Full Article