The man’s death at Manston Immigration Center may have been diphtheria

People wait to board a bus at the migrant processing center in Manston, Britain, November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

His death came after reports of the spread of disease at Manston’s immigration center (Image: Reuters)

A, who died at Manston Migrant Processing Center due to possible diphtheria infection, the Home Office said.

Initial tests at a hospital near the center in Kent, which has been struggling with overcrowding and outbreaks of disease, came back negative – but a follow-up PCR was positive.

The result suggests that “diphtheria may be the cause of the disease,” the statement said.

The man died in hospital on November 19, having entered the UK on a small boat, believed to be seven days earlier.

A government spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of the late man and everyone affected by this loss.

“Initial test results processed by a local hospital for an infectious disease were negative, but a subsequent PCR test was positive, suggesting diphtheria could be the cause of the disease. The coroner will conclude in due course.

Men believed to be a gesture by migrants to members of the media at the Manston Immigration Short-Term Holding Facility, located in the former Defense Fire Training and Development Center in Thanet, Kent. Picture date: Tuesday November 8, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The Kent facility has been holding thousands of migrants in recent months (Image: PA)

RAMSGATE, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: An aerial view of families in a migrant holding facility at Manston Airfield on November 01, 2022 in Ramsgate, England. Several thousand migrants are currently staying at this former Royal Air Force base, hundreds were moved here yesterday after a petrol bomb attack on a processing center in Dover. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

At one point, 4,000 people were in the center at once (Picture: Getty)

People stand in a fenced off area at the migrant processing center in Manston, Britain November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The Kent center has been at the center of a series of scandals in recent months (Image: Reuters)

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“We take the safety and well-being of those in our care very seriously and are taking whatever steps are necessary based on these results.”

Diphtheria vaccinations will be offered to all newcomers to Manston, the spokeswoman said, although the facility is currently empty.

An autopsy and forensic examination are ongoing.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that affects the nose, throat and sometimes the skin.

The NHS says it’s rare in the UK and can be treated with antibiotics and other medicines.

The Home Office first said there was “no evidence at this point that this tragic death was caused by an infectious disease,” with the man falling ill a day before he died.

At one point, up to 4,000 people were being held at the compound, which is only designed for 1,600 people, but on Tuesday government sources said the compound had been emptied.

New arrivals were expected to be taken to the site designed to hold people for a short time during security and identity checks before being taken to accommodation.

However, some people have been held for much longer periods due to a lack of alternative housing.

As migrants have been moved from Manston to hotels across the country, health officials are advising people to be offered vaccinations and preventive antibiotic courses upon arrival at their new accommodation.

The British Health Safety Authority identified 39 cases of diphtheria in asylum seekers in England in 2022, before the man’s death (as of 10 November).

The health authority warned that shelters should be classified as “high risk for infectious diseases”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been criticized for the dire conditions in Manston and for failing to slow the dangerous crossing of the English Channel by people in small boats.

This week she admitted the government “failed to control our borders” but blamed desperate migrants and people smugglers for overcrowding in Manston.

‘I’ll tell you whose fault it is. It’s very clear who is to blame. It is the people who are breaking our rules, coming here illegally, exploiting vulnerable people and trying to limit the generosity of the British people. That’s who’s to blame,” she told MPs.

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Justin Scacco

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