MSF rejects ‘alarmist’ letter by Thessaloniki school’s parents association

Doctors without Borders (MSF) rejected as “alarmist” the claims made in a letter by the parents association of a primary school in Thessaloniki who requested that refugee children stop coming to school after one of them was infected with hepatitis A.

“There’s minimum risk of contagion and one outbreak does not threaten the rest of the kids,” Dr. Apostolos Veizis, MSF’s head of mission in Greece, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), adding many health problems facing the refugees and migrants are linked to the poor living conditions in the camps.

He also denied the NGO ever warned the international community about the high probability of diseases spreading to the general population. “We have not warned about anyting like that,” he said, adding “the letter’s alarmism does harm.”

The school principal of the 67th primary school of Xirokrini, Dimitris Goulis, told ANA the child contracted the virus while school was closed for the holidays.

In a letter sent to Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris, the First Instance Court Prosecutor and the local education services, the parents’ association said the news about the hepatitis A outbreak “worried” the association which asks that the school “does not accept the continuation of it operation as a school for refugees.”

“These concerns are reasonable as these people are living in camps with poor living conditions,” the association said. It also warned that if there is “any incident in the future” the association will seek criminal liability from whoever is responsible.