Man's death at Manston migrant centre could have been down to highly-contagious deadly disease

26 November 2022, 08:18

Manston short-term holding centre for Migrants
Manston short-term holding centre for Migrants. Picture: Getty
Fran Way

By Fran Way

A man's death at the Manston migrant processing centre may have been caused by a diphtheria infection, the Home Office has said.

The man arrived on UK shores on small boat on November 12.

Human right campaigners raised concerns that the man was being held at the short-term holding site unlawfully, after he died seven days later on November 19.

A Government spokeswoman said: "Our thoughts remain with the family of the man who has died and all those affected by this loss.

"Initial test results processed by a local hospital for an infectious disease were negative, but a follow-up PCR test was positive, indicating that diphtheria may be the cause of the illness. The coroner will conclude in due course.

"We take the safety and welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and are taking all of the necessary steps following these results.

"We are offering diphtheria vaccinations to people at Manston, which has 24/7 health facilities and trained medical staff."

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It's spread by coughs and sneezes, or through close contact with someone who is infected.

Diphtheria is rare in the UK because babies and children have been routinely vaccinated against it since the 1940s.

Since 2018, the World Health Organization has reported a rise in cases in places including: Indonesia, India, South America and Africa.

READ MORE: Manston Asylum Centre is now completely empty after migrants placed in new accommodation

On Tuesday, it was revealed that the migrant centre in Kent, which is being used to hold people temporarily who have arrived on the UK shores on small boats, is now completely empty.

In recent weeks, the site has been at the centre of controversy with fears of overcrowding.

The former RAF base was only intended to hold up to 1,600 people for no more than 24 hours while they undergo security and identity checks - in exceptional circumstances this can be extended to five days. After that they’re supposed to move into the Home Office’s asylum accommodation system which is often a hotel due to the shortage of accommodation.

However, earlier this month there were reportedly 4,000 people living there for weeks on end.

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