Up to 100 migrants in facemasks are tested for coronavirus after trying to cross English Channel


An MP is calling for any migrants coming into Kent to be taken straight into quarantine for 14 days – as up to 100 wearing facemasks were caught trying to cross the English Channel today.

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke callled for the action after Border Force officers have detained and tested around 84 migrants for coronavirus after intercepting their boats off the coast. 

Ms Elphicke said the Port of Dover is a vital supply line for the nation which ‘can’t be risked’ and that the migrants should be isolated at other ports upon arrival.

She also said it is ‘not right’ that migrants are reportedly being tested for Covid-19 using British resources – which she believes should instead go to frontline workers.

Around five boats of migrants – many wearing facemasks – are believed to have been intercepted in the Channel despite the UK being on coronavirus lockdown. 

A further 14 people were rescued in the early hours by French authorities and returned to the port of Boulogne. 

So far 388 have been detained so far this year excluding today’s figures which have yet to be confirmed by the Home Office. 

Dozens of migrants wearing facemasks were picked up by border force officials despite the UK being on coronavirus lockdown

Pictures show the migrants being detained in Dover for testing as border force officials also wearing facemasks prepare to process them

Pictures show the migrants being detained in Dover for testing as border force officials also wearing facemasks prepare to process them

Around five boats carrying an estimated 80 migrants are believed to have been intercepted, with the operation underway off the Kent coast from around 5am (pictured, migrants detained in Dover today)

Around five boats carrying an estimated 80 migrants are believed to have been intercepted, with the operation underway off the Kent coast from around 5am (pictured, migrants detained in Dover today)

Fourteen people including two children were discovered in a boat in cold waters trying to cross the English Channel after a emergency helicopter search

Fourteen people including two children were discovered in a boat in cold waters trying to cross the English Channel after a emergency helicopter search

Ms Elphicke said: ‘It’s vital the Home Office and the French authorities take immediate action to stop these illegal crossings.

‘If people break into the country illegally, whether by small boats or lorries, they should be immediately quarantined for 14 days for the protection of our community and our country.

‘There have been reports that illegal migrants are being tested on arrival and then released to the immigration authorities.

‘If so, that’s simply not right. We have a serious shortage of testing kits for frontline nurses and doctors and other key health workers.

‘There is a national need to prioritise and that’s where the testing resources need to go – not on testing illegal entrants. Illegal entrants must be placed into quarantine for 14 days.

‘The Port of Dover, the ferry companies, lorry drivers and other local workers are a key part of the vital supply line of food, medicine and goods.

‘These illegal crossings cannot be allowed to put any part of our national operation at risk.

‘Illegal migrants picked up at sea must be taken to other smaller ports.

‘Now more than ever, we need to put a stop to these illegal crossings across the English Channel.

‘We must protect the nation. We need to be fully focussed on beating the virus at this time.’ 

Pictures show the migrants being detained in Dover for testing as border force officials – also wearing facemasks – prepare to process them. 

The large groups are being brought to the Port of Dover in Kent for processing.

Border force officials apparently tested the migrants for possible cases of COVID-19 upon arrival into the country

Border force officials apparently tested the migrants for possible cases of COVID-19 upon arrival into the country

So far 388 have been detained so far this year excluding today's figures which have yet to be confirmed by the Home Office (pictured, migrants detained today)

So far 388 have been detained so far this year excluding today’s figures which have yet to be confirmed by the Home Office (pictured, migrants detained today)

Mrs Elphicke also said it is "not right" that migrants are reportedly being tested for Covid-19 using British resources - which she believes should instead go to frontline workers

Mrs Elphicke also said it is ‘not right’ that migrants are reportedly being tested for Covid-19 using British resources – which she believes should instead go to frontline workers

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke (pictured) today called for any migrants coming into Kent to be taken straight into quarantine for 14 days

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke (pictured) today called for any migrants coming into Kent to be taken straight into quarantine for 14 days

Many were seen wearing protective masks on the quayside at Dover Harbour in Kent as they were waiting to be driven away for processing by immigration officers. 

French coastguard were alerted at 2.14am to a dinghy crammed with with 14 migrants in difficulty on board off Berck.

An air sea rescue helicopter from the French Navy found the boat four miles west of the resort of Le Touquet an hour later.

Some 12 men and two minors were brought shore at the port suffering from mild hypothermia.

Last month, 102 asylum seekers made it to the UK in one day – the highest number recorded – following a year where around 1,900 reached the country. 

Many of the migrants who come to Britain often claim to be Iranian – sparking coronavirus fears as the country has one of the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world at more than 27,000.

The latest crossings are understood to have been made in rigid-hulled inflatable boats.

Sea conditions are said to have been ‘the best in a long time’ for crossing the Channel in small boats – although it is still considered a huge risk to life to cross the Dover Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, in the inflatable vessels.

Temperatures out in the Channel are thought to have been cold – around 3C to 4C – with force three winds.

People smugglers charge desperate migrants thousands to cross the Channel from France.

Last year, at least two asylum seekers are known to have died trying to reach Britain.

One was a 48-year-old Iraqi man who tried to swim over, while a woman fell overboard and was found on Dutch waters weeks later.    

A large number of migrants have been detained by Border Force officers crossing the English Channel from attempted from France today despite the UK being on coronavirus lockdown

A large number of migrants have been detained by Border Force officers crossing the English Channel from attempted from France today despite the UK being on coronavirus lockdown

So far 388 have been detained so far this year excluding today’s figures which have yet to be confirmed by the Home Office (pictured, migrants detained today in Dover)

So far 388 have been detained so far this year excluding today’s figures which have yet to be confirmed by the Home Office (pictured, migrants detained today in Dover)

It’s the latest in a number of attempted crossing in recent weeks after migrants wearing facemasks were pictured arriving at Dover last week.

Last week, more than 100 migrants risked their lives to make the treacherous crossing to the UK.

Bella Sankey from Detention Action last week called for migrants to be given ‘safe accommodation, instead of indefinite detention’, and the means to self-isolate if they need to.

Fears have been raised that 3,000 migrants living in northern France in desperate conditions are at high risk of contracting Covid-19.

It is understood a number of migrants were detained by Border Force and taken into the Port of Dover before being handed over to Immigration Officers on Thursday last week. 

It is thought the group crossed the Channel by dinghy before being caught by Border Force once they arrived in the UK.

A large dinghy was later discovered off the coast of Dungeness, Kent, containing personal belongings belonging to the migrants.

The Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) was brought ashore by the crew of the Dungeness lifeboat at lunchtime on Thursday.

Sea conditions are said to have been "the best in a long time" for crossing the Channel in small boats - although it is still considered a huge risk to life to cross the Dover Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, in the inflatable vessels (pictured, migrants detained today)

Sea conditions are said to have been ‘the best in a long time’ for crossing the Channel in small boats – although it is still considered a huge risk to life to cross the Dover Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, in the inflatable vessels (pictured, migrants detained today)

Border Force officials wearing face masks have reportedly intercepted a number of small boats containing refugees also wearing the protective masks amid the Covid-19 crisis

Border Force officials wearing face masks have reportedly intercepted a number of small boats containing refugees also wearing the protective masks amid the Covid-19 crisis

Last month, 102 asylum seekers made it to the UK in one day - the highest number recorded - following a year where around 1,900 reached the country (pictured, border force officials today)

 Last month, 102 asylum seekers made it to the UK in one day – the highest number recorded – following a year where around 1,900 reached the country (pictured, border force officials today)

The blue and white boat was left on the beach nearby.

A black Nike trainer, a grey jacket, towels, bottles of water and pieces of bread were left scattered along the inside of the inflatable vessel. 

Elsewhere, sixteen migrants were rescued after setting off from France and trying to cross the English Channel to the UK. 

It comes despite the escalating coronavirus crisis in Britain, where cases are increasing every day and the country is in lockdown.

Migrant aid charity Care4Calais warned this week that 3,000 migrants living in desperate conditions in northern France are at high risk from Covid-19.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed Border Force are currently dealing with a number of ongoing small boat incidents off the Kent coast and will be releasing more details once the operation has concluded

A Home Office spokesman confirmed Border Force are currently dealing with a number of ongoing small boat incidents off the Kent coast and will be releasing more details once the operation has concluded

Many were seen wearing protective masks on the quayside at Dover Harbour in Kent as they were waiting to be driven away for processing by immigration officers

Many were seen wearing protective masks on the quayside at Dover Harbour in Kent as they were waiting to be driven away for processing by immigration officers

It is understood the incident is ongoing, with Border Force vessels Hunter and Speedwell involved, along with the cutter Vigilant

It is understood the incident is ongoing, with Border Force vessels Hunter and Speedwell involved, along with the cutter Vigilant

Up to 1,000 refugees are living in Calais, with many seeking to attempt the dangerous crossing despite repeated safety warnings.

On Tuesday, UK Border Force intercepted two inflatable boats off the coast of Kent, carrying 25 migrants who were then expected to be checked for coronavirus symptoms, the Home Office said.

And on Monday, 16 men were intercepted by French authorities five nautical miles off Dunkirk.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said there are no known cases of Covid-19 in the makeshift camps on the northern coast of France, but it is only a matter of time.

She said: ‘They can’t have showers. They can’t wash their hands. They can’t self-isolate. So all the things we are being told to do, they can’t do.

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