A Border Force union rep has revealed that cross-Channel illegal immigrants launching from Northern France often test positive for Covid 19, putting officers’ health in danger.
Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union told The Times up to ten migrants a day are testing positive for the virus, and no less than five, meaning a minimum of 3% of migrants plucked from the Channel carry the disease.
The infection rate for the whole of the UK is 0.16%. Few Brits are travelling abroad and potentially bringing dangerous variants back with them whereas, by definition, all migrants are coming from abroad and risk bringing rapacious new strains into the country to kill even more people.
The frightening statistic is even more concerning as a result of the exploding number of migrants taking advantage of the summer weather to cross the Channel. In early May, 1,850 people had made it to Britain aboard flimsy dinghies this year, that figure has now climbed up to 4,500. 800 have arrived this month already.
And not only are the numbers higher, but as more and more of them are taken ashore by British vessels – it emerged over the weekend that Border Force cutters have been requesting to enter French waters to pick up migrants – the more they are being crammed together and likely spreading the virus among one another, including UK personnel.
“We have positive arrivals all the time, putting staff and migrants at risk of infection,” said Moreton. “We have a handful, between five and ten 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.”
Moreton is emerging as a potentially significant figure as an enraged public demands more action and more answers from a government increasingly accused of flattering to deceive when it comes to the Channel migrant crisis.
The Times quotes a Home Office spokesperson who said Moreton’s numbers were “completely wrong”.
“In May and so far in June no migrants arriving via small boat have received a positive Covid test,” they added.
However, a government source admitted, “it’s going to be a difficult period ahead as the weather gets better, so we need to use all the resources at our disposal to clamp down on crossings.”
Following a stinging backlash over HMC Valiant’s tracked incursion into French waters to pick up migrants, Patel held a meeting with Border Force chiefs on Monday night to try and think up new strategies “at pace”. But with the French – who appear to have given up patrolling their side of the Channel properly – refusing to take migrants back and Britain constrained by human rights treaties and charters, a winning solution looks unlikely without tough unilateral action.
Last month Moreton spoke out to warn that her officers are increasingly confronted with “mob unrest” and entitled migrants who expect luxury treatment.
Meanwhile, a major new survey has found that 56% of Brits want measures to prevent failed asylum applicants from settling legally in the UK. Just 20% opposed such a move.