Coronavirus case in US border refugee camp raises alarm

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HOUSTON (AP) – A person has been tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in a sprawling refugee camp on the US-Mexico border, where an estimated 2,000 people are waiting for their immigration court data, according to a non-profit organization providing medical provides care in the camp.

Global Response Management said in a statement on Tuesday that the positive test came back on Monday for one person and negative for three family members. Tests are pending for two other people.

Residents of the camp in Matamoros, Mexico, live in dire conditions: most sleep in tents or under sails, and there is little access to running water. The non-profit group has long warned that a single case of the coronavirus could spread quickly.

“The presence of COVID-19 in an already vulnerable population exposed to the elements could potentially be catastrophic,” the group said in a statement.

People in the camp usually wait for court data just across the border in Brownsville, Texas, under a Trump administration program known as “Remain in Mexico.” Launched last year along the border, the “Remain” program has sent tens of thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico instead of allowing them to wait for their hearing dates in the US.

There have been numerous reports of migrants being kidnapped, attacked or extorted while waiting for their court dates.

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