Minors deported from Mexico to Guatemala positive for virus


An immigration official uses a protective face mask as a preventive measure against the new coronavirus, COVID-19, upon the arrival of Guatemalan migrants deported from the United States, at the Air Force base in Guatemala City, on March 12, 2020. (Photo by JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

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GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Four unaccompanied Guatemalan minors tested positive for the novel coronavirus after being deported by Mexico this week, their government said Thursday.

The cases are the first that the government has acknowledged for deportees arriving from Mexico. The three boys and one girl — all teenagers — arrived by bus Monday, said Anaeli Torres, director of Special Protection and Non-Residential Attention for Guatemala’s social welfare agency.

All four arrived with paperwork from Mexico certifying that they were asymptomatic and Torres said they continue to be asymptomatic. But the government is testing all minors when they arrive before sending them back to their families, she said.

“Since the cases were identified, the adolescents have been moved to the appropriate health services,” Torres said. She also called on Guatemalans living near shelters where deported children are housed to not stigmatize them.

Virus fears have led to aggressive rejection of deportees in some communities.

“They have the right to return to their country and a dignified family reunification,” Torres said.

Ten other children who arrived with them from Mexico were still awaiting their test results, according to Torres.

The Guatemalan government has reported at least 100 deportees from the United States who tested positive for the virus after arriving in Guatemala. Those cases led the government to twice suspend deportation flights from the U.S. until that government began testing deportees and certifying they were negative before putting them on planes.

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