Nearly a month after opening the gates to Europe, the Turkish government has closed the border due to the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The Turkish authorities shut down the land border this week in the Evros region near the town of Kastanies but not before migrants along the border made one last attempt to storm their way into Greece and the European Union the night before.
The migrants, allegedly aided by Turkish forces firing tear gas towards Greece, were repelled in the early morning hours of Thursday by Greek border forces, according to a report from Greek newspaper Proto Thema.
The Turkish government’s decision to close the border came at midnight on Wednesday and comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged millions of euros for Turkey to pay for migrants fleeing the conflict in the Idlib province of Syria earlier this week.
A Greek report released earlier in the week noted that since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the opening of the border to Europe in late February, over 50,000 migrants had made attempts to illegally cross into Greece, with 410 arrested.
Many have expressed fears over the spread of coronavirus among migrants trying to enter Greece and those fears were confirmed when a migrant on the Greek island of Lesbos tested positive for the virus.
As a result, all of the migrant camps on the island have been placed on lockdown as migrants have been encouraged not to leave the overcrowded reception centres.
The medical NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF), meanwhile, has called for the Greek government to move the migrants from the island camps to the Greek mainland.
MSF’s Greek Medical Coordinator Dr Hilde Vichten said the conditions of the camps were unsanitary and provided a perfect place for the virus to spread saying: “It would be impossible to contain an outbreak.”