Most of them come from Asia and are essential for the functioning of agriculture in Portugal. Since March 16, a group of immigrant agricultural workers has been in solitary confinement in Faro, in the south of the country.
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The capital of the Algarve, a region popular with tourists, has encountered an exceptional case. One of the workers in the group, very ill, had to be taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with coronavirus.
Under escort of the gendarmes
Members of his community were housed there and all worked in the greenhouses of the region. Faced with suspicions of contagion, the ARS, the regional health delegation, immediately took strong measures to isolate them. And it was under escort of the gendarmes that the Asian agricultural workers were taken to a school sold by the town hall of Faro. The workers, who did not understand what was expected of them and refused to give up their job, their only source of income, resisted.
” NOTe used an English interpreter to explain the situation of total containment. At first, to be quick, the Asians were installed in the school’s sports pavilion, equipped with toilets. But then we were able to install them in classrooms equipped with beds “Explains Pedro Medina, chief of staff to the mayor of Faro.
A solidarity network has been set up to provide sheets, clothing and food. Again, this had to be faced, as explained by the regional health delegation. The first meals served being too Portuguese, it was necessary to have the help of an Asian cook. Rice, lentils and spices were donated by an association of Nepalese. The town hall ensures the preparation of meals and the Red Cross their distribution. A situation that could repeat itself.
In Faro, we are ready
“ Currently, 53 people are in total containment. Inside the school, farm workers were separated on one side, in severe isolation, from the five people with symptoms of Covid-19. Four others were hospitalized and a couple were able to return to their homes “Says Pedro Lima. Unfortunately, the community living conditions imposed on these workers are conducive to the spread of the virus, including dormitories with bunk beds used by several different people, group shopping in local stores, group meals, etc. without forgetting the contact with other groups of workers in the greenhouses.
In Faro, we are ready. ” PAt this time, there are no new community outbreaks of infection. But we have other facilities and beds, if necessary, and if the health services require it “Explains the chief of staff of the Faro city hall. Some 500 immigrants are said to live in the region.
Elsewhere in Odemira, in the northern Alentejo, the 8,000 registered immigrants represent 50% of the resident population. Here too we say we are ready, with 500 beds, to face a local epidemic. Municipalities are keen to provide humane responses. In Portugal, the Asian workforce is essential for a local economy that lacks arms.