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Ministry clarifies Nouris’ comment on HIV and TB in Pournara (Updated)

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The Pournara camp (Christos Theodorides)

Tuberculosis and HIV positive cases at the Pournara reception centre for asylum seekers have been screened and there is ‘no cause of concern’, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry issued a clarification announcement later in the day, after Interior Minister Nicos Nouris earlier told CyBC there were 1,100 residents at Pournara who have been diagnosed as HIV positive and another 800 have tuberculosis.

“Because the minister’s statements have been misrepresented, the ministry of interior wishes to clarify that neither 1,100 AIDS cases are currently living at the centre nor 800 TB patients,” it said.

Media reported that the numbers were provided to the minister by the centre. However, it appears the numbers he cited relate not to a fixed point in time but over an extended period –about 12 months.

The statement clarified how the minister had stressed that despite the increase in such cases, everyone has been screened and there is no cause for concern.

“Our first concern when a migrant enters the centre is medical care including vaccinations and diagnostic tests, while those who need medication are provided with it,” the ministry added.

HIV and tuberculosis coinfections are common.

It was not immediately clear in what context Nouris mentioned the HIV and tuberculosis numbers.

The minister’s comments come less than a week after violent clashes between two groups at the Kokkinotrimithia camp resulted in fires which injured residents and security guards and destroyed equipment.

Following the incidents, Nouris announced that those involved would be deported and that the ministry will speed up the process to install additional fencing.

Cyprus is in first place among the European union member states in terms of migrant readmissions, with some 6,500 people having been returned to their home country, Nouris told Cybc.

He added that in recent weeks, the republic’s “huge efforts” to send back foreign nationals to Pakistan, India and Vietnam are paying off.

A delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo is expected in Cyprus in a few days, Nouris said, in hope of reaching an agreement on the return of migrants to the African country.

 

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