Cases of diphtheria among asylum seekers in England have hit record levels, according to new figures.
Data released by the Government shows that cases of the serious bacterial infection peaked before Christmas and have continued to rise since then.
Robert Jenrick said migrants showing signs of the highly-contagious disease would be separated for a “short period” Victoria Jones
Officials recorded 71 cases between December 19 and 25 - up from 67 recorded the seven days before. Between December 25 and January 2, which is the most recent data available, there were 73 registered cases.
This is the highest number ever recorded by Government statisticians. The figures emerged just weeks after the Immigration Minister told MPs that asylum seekers with symptoms of diphtheria would be put into isolation following information from the UKHSA which indicated there had been an increase in the number of infections among those coming to the UK.
Robert Jenrick said migrants showing signs of the highly-contagious disease would be separated for a “short period” at the Manston migrant processing centre near Ramsgate or held in a “designated isolation centre” while they are treated.
Some public health experts have raised concerns about the spread of the disease as migrants are moved to hotels and other accommodation and asylum seekers who may have the infection but are already in hotels are being told to isolate in their rooms and seek treatment.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has faced criticism at overcrowding and outbreaks disease at Manston, amid concerns that a man held there may have died from diptheria.
Hussein Haseeb Ahmed, 31, died at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate last November after being held at Manston after crossing the Channel a week earlier.
The Home Office initially said there was no evidence he had died from an infectious disease, but a follow-up test for diphtheria proved positive, indicating this was the likely cause.
An inquest into Mr Ahmed’s death has been adjourned until next May.
Ministers and health officials have insisted the risk to the public of getting diphtheria is very low and infections are rare. The illness – which affects the nose, throat and sometimes skin – can be fatal if not treated quickly but antibiotics and other medicines are effective as a treatment if used in good time.
Last week GB News exclusively revealed that the first Channel migrants of 2023 had arrived at Dover harbour in Kent.
Fourty-four people on board a small inflatable were transferred to a Border Force vessel and taken to the Manston processing centre.
Since then, strong winds have thwarted any further crossings, but thousands of migrants are expected to attempt the journey once the weather improves.
Official figures reveal that last year 45,756 people crossed the English Channel in inflatable boats.
The latest arrivals have come despite promises by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “pass new laws to stop small boats” and pledging that if migrants come to the UK illegally they will be “detained and swiftly removed."