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Swiss support Greece in Covid-19 fight

A refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, file photo from October 14 Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Switzerland has delivered medical equipment to the Aegean Islands, host to more than 21,000 refugees and migrants, whose health services have “reached their limits” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This content was published on December 15, 2020 - 17:44
FDFA/Reuters/ilj

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) sent two special patient transport vehicles specially designed for Covid-19 patients and two air-conditioned ISO containers to be used as mobile examination rooms, to the health service responsible for the Aegean islands in Athens on Tuesday.

Both the patient transport vehicles and ISO containers will be used on the islands where migrant reception centres are situated. A training course in contact tracing is also being delivered to the authorities, a FDFA statement saidExternal link.

Greece took in over a million refugees and migrants during the migration crisis in 2015 and 2016, the FDFA said. Although far fewer migrants are now arriving, there are over 120,000 refugees and migrants in Greece.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, the national healthcare system has reached its limits, especially on the Aegean islands, which is host to more than 21,000 refugees and migrants,” the statement said. “The regional hospitals on the islands often lack vital medical equipment, testing supplies and other products.”

Support package

The move is part of a CHF1.5 million ($1.7 million) support package delivered by the end of the year to help Greece “tackle the pandemic more effectively in relation to migrants,” the FDFA continued.

The funds go towards the delivery of relief supplies and also contribute to the Covid-19 programmes of NGOs Médecins du Monde and the Greek Red Cross.

Earlier this month, 800 Covid-19 test kits were donated to the migrants' centre run by the Orthodox Church, which provides housing for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.

Later this week, a PCR analyser for rapid Covid-19 testing and 1,400 test kits will be delivered to Mytilini General Hospital on the island of Lesbos. The last tranche of help will come at the end of January 2021, when blood transfusion supplies will be delivered to the same hospital, the FDFA said.

Greece was forced to impose a nationwide lockdownExternal link in November, its second this year, after an aggressive surge in COVID-19 cases.

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