Guatemalan president says many migrants on U.S. deportation flight had coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei looks on during a news conference with Michael Kozak (not pictured), acting assistant secretary for U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, in Guatemala City, Guatemala February 7, 2020. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said on Friday a large number of migrants on a deportation flight to Guatemala from the United States earlier this week had the novel coronavirus, adding that U.S. authorities had confirmed a dozen infections.

Giammattei said 12 randomly selected migrants who took the deportation flight tested positive for coronavirus when examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. health protection agency.

He suggested more on the flight had tested positive for the virus.

“A large part of it was infected,” the president said in a televised address, referring to a flight that left the United States for Guatemala City on Monday.

Flights deporting Guatemalan migrants from the United States were on Thursday once again temporarily suspended after reports of the mass infection. Deportation flights had only started again on Monday following a five-day suspension.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Sandra Maler

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