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Meningitis worry adds to Spain immigration crisis

Source: El Pais - Sat 22th Mar 2014
Meningitis worry adds to Spain immigration crisis

A 19-year-old African migrant who jumped over the Melilla border fence last week has been taken to a hospital intensive care unit, where he is being treated for meningitis.

As a precautionary measure, authorities have ordered medical treatment for 226 people who have been in contact with the patient in recent days, including other immigrants and workers at the holding center in the city.

Although the type of meningitis the sub-Saharan migrant suffers from has not been revealed yet, sources briefed on the matter said his health had deteriorated in the last few hours.

The government delegate in Melilla, Abdelmalik El Barkani, described the case as "an isolated incident."

"To call it practically an outbreak and to create so much alarm is, in my modest opinion, not serious and quite irresponsible," he said on Friday.

The health department of the North African Spanish exclave has bought 200 tetravalent meningoccocal conjugate vaccines for personnel who were in contact with the patient for 10 days before he was diagnosed with meningitis.

The UFP police union has asked for sub-Saharans entering Spain illegally to be "quarantined" and checked by doctors to ensure they are not carriers of an infectious disease.

Of the 500 undocumented Africans who managed to jump the border fence last Tuesday, 29 of them have received medical assistance at local health centers. The president of the physicians association, Jesús Delgado Aboy, said it is necessary to reinforce the number of health personnel in the city.

Meanwhile, the holding center, which has a capacity for 472, currently has 1,800 immigrants in detention there following several massive runs on the border fence.

Last year, a total of 1,074 undocumented migrants made it into the city, according to the Interior Ministry. In the two and a half months that have elapsed since the beginning of 2014, more than 1,600 crossed successfully.

Read previous news articles concerning the sub-Saharan migrants swarm on Spain's North African borders by clicking the link >HERE<

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