New York: A 31-year-old Indian man, who was apprehended on the suspicion of illegally crossing into America through the US-Mexico border, has tested positive for the COVID-19, becoming the first individual in the border protection agency's custody to be infected with the virus.
The US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) said that on April 23, a border patrol agent apprehended three Mexicans and the Indian national suspected of having illegally crossed the US-Mexico border near California.
While the three Mexican nationals were returned to their country, the Indian was transported to a border patrol facility for processing, CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said.
The Indian national, who was not identified, displayed flu like symptoms, following which he was evaluated by medical personnel and placed in quarantine. He was tested for the COVID-19 and his evaluation came back positive.
This is the first individual in CBP custody to test positive for COVID-19, the agency said. The CBP said it is currently conducting contact tracing with those he may have been in contact with and closely monitoring his symptoms.
The man has been transferred to the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement where he will continue to be treated based on medical personnel's recommendations.
The potential for the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in CBP stations and processing centres presents a danger to migrants, our frontline agents and officers, and the American people. Our agents and officers continue to protect our country from this invisible enemy, risking their own lives for the health of our nation," Morgan said.
He added that this is precisely the reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given CBP the authority to return individuals that could potentially be infected with COVID-19.
"Can you imagine if we were navigating this pandemic during this time last year, when we had more than 20,000 migrants in our custody? It would have overwhelmed our processing centres and stations, and crippled the healthcare system along the border, Morgan added.
Indians are among the thousands of Africans and Asian migrants crossing US borders from Mexico, led by smuggling cartels.
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, the coronavirus has infected over 980,000 people and claimed over 56,000 lives in the US.