Italy: Town residents protest housing migrants with virus

Residents of a southern Italian town are continuing to protest more than a dozen rescued migrants with the coronavirus being isolated in a local apartment building

A day after blocking a nearby state road, dozens of Amantea residents moved their noisy protest to the streets of their seaside resort town. Thirteen of 24 migrants who were rescued at sea tested positive for COVID-19 and are being housed in apartments next to other residential buildings in the neighborhood.

Police vehicles were stationed outside the building to ensure no one leaves isolation. Italian media reported that there were plans to send in soldiers to maintain order in the town of 14,000.

The governor of the Calabria region, Jole Santelli, renewed her appeal to the Italian government to quarantine or isolate migrants on boats kept offshore, which happened off Sicily recently.

“I share their worry,” Santelli said of the protesters in an interview with Sky TG24 TV.

The governor said that Amantea and other seaside towns nearby live off tourism, noting that housing infected migrants could deter visitors when the Italian economy already is reeling from the pandemic's effects on travel.

Until the outbreak among some of the migrants, who were rescued in the Mediterranean from unseaworthy boats launched by migrant smugglers, Calabria as recently as last week had been reporting one or two or even no new virus cases a day.

On Sunday, 28 new cases in Calabria were confirmed, all apparently among migrants rescued last week. The 13 migrants in Amantea who tested positive were believed to have set out from Bangladesh in a boat launched by people smugglers.

In recent weeks, Bulgarian farm workers were linked to an outbreak in the southern Campania region, and a northern Italian businessman's travels to Serbia last month was linked to a local outbreak in the northeastern region of Veneto.