UNGA 2020: Migrants refusing covid tests over fears of deportation, warns Red Cross

IFRC says coronavirus has had a ‘catastrophic’ effect on migrants

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Some migrants are refusing to get a coronavirus test because they fear authorities will detain them, the Red Cross has warned.

The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) said migrants who are denied access to healthcare could be driving new infections as the disease was going undetected.

Speaking at a United Nations General Assembly side event, IFRC president Francesco Rocca said there were cases of migrants refusing to get a coronavirus test because their details were being passed onto authorities who could detain or deport them.

Mr Rocca also said many migrants did not understand how to reduce the risk of infection as coronavirus guidance was published in a language they did not understand.

“We speak of Covid-19 as an equaliser, but all it’s done has exposed even more inequality gaps in our society,” he told the Sustainable Development Goals Action Zone.

“(The pandemic) has been cruel for all of us, but it has been catastrophic for migrants.”

He cited the example of Singapore, which experienced a second wave of infections after an outbreak in migrant worker dormitories.

Many of the low-paid migrants were not immediately tested after developing Covid-19 symptoms.

Mr Rocca urged countries to make healthcare and provision of a future vaccine available to all.

“It is in the critical national interest of every country that testing and tracing is made available to everyone in their borders,” he said, adding: “The most vulnerable always pay the highest price.”

He continued: “Surely migrants having access to healthcare will lessen the caseload and prevent a second wave?

“We should leave no one behind. No one is safe until we are all safe.”