Asylum seekers moved from Manston migrant centre say they will walk one hour to hospital to find medical help 

By Neha Gohil Correspondent

Meet the asylum seekers - showing symptoms of infectious disease - who were going to walk for more than an hour to a hospital.

WARNING: Contains images that some may find distressing
We’ve spoken to a group of asylum seekers housed in a hotel in southern England, all showing the signs of infectious disease.
A group of Afghan asylum seekers told TNM in mid-November they were dealing with severe symptoms of infectious disease. They showed us the sores, blisters and spots that have spread across their bodies.
They said they were going to walk for more than an hour to a hospital to seek medical help.
The men had all been recently held at - what they describe to be - Manston migrant centre in Kent. They were then sent to hotel accommodation more than 100 miles away in the south of England. We have verified their account.  
Despite flagging their symptoms to the staff at Manston and the hotel, the asylum seekers said they have not received enough medical help.
The Manston asylum centre was in the news because of the poor conditions there with people having to sleep on the floor for weeks and diseases spreading like scabies and diphtheria.
Our conversations with asylum seekers who were held at Manston since the end of October suggest asylum seekers were not properly medically checked before being moved from the centre.
The asylum seekers were then sent to hotels despite still experiencing the symptoms of infectious disease.

“I have a rash on my skin. I am in pain. I cannot sleep at night”

Hussein*, 24, came to the UK after crossing the English Channel in a small boat from France in October 2022. 
I met Hussein outside the hotel he was sent to with other asylum seekers who made the same journey from France to the UK.
After our chat, Hussein said he was going to walk to a hospital more than one hour away with two other asylum seekers for medical help.  
He said he has been dealing with severely itchy skin for one month, spots across his body and difficulties sleeping. 
Hussein’s experience is similar to several asylum seekers we spoke to who said they did not know where to go for medical support or how to access it. 
Dozens of the asylum seekers we spoke to and saw were wearing flip-flops. They said they were not given shoes since leaving Manston.
Hussein was held at the Manston asylum processing centre after arriving in the UK - the asylum seekers refer to the centre as ‘the camp.’
He said: “The situation at the [Manston] camp is very bad. 
“Even if you don’t have the itching problem, you develop it here at the [Manston] camp.” 
He said there was a long list of people waiting to be seen by medical staff at Manston which meant he had to wait around 5-10 hours for help. 
“You have to go there every day to give them your name. When one staff member’s shift is over and another staff comes, they tell you to wait 10 minutes. There are 150 people in one tent,” he said. 
“There are too many people. They say wait five minutes but you end up waiting 5 or even ten hours until the same staff member whom you saw the first day starts their shift.”
He said the medical support “helped to a degree” in Manston but he “must now walk to the hospital for itching...and still not certain that they will help me.”
Hussein added: “We are upset... How would you feel if you are in pain and you can't sleep at night and you haven't got a penny in your pocket? We don't even have nail clippers to clip our nails."
Here are some of the pictures we took of the asylum seekers’ conditions. Seeker E.jpg

The asylum seekers said they were dealing with intense itching Seeker D.jpg

The asylum seekers showed us their symptoms

We showed a doctor our interviews with the asylum seekers and the pictures of their symptoms. 
She said it is not possible to make a diagnosis without a full medical history and there may be a variety of causes of their symptoms.
However, she said there is a possibility that they are dealing with symptoms of cutaneous diphtheria - a highly contagious infection.
She added: “They definitely all require some degree of medical attention for their own benefit and also to investigate the contagious nature of their symptoms to stop the spread to other people.”
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which is responsible for protecting communities from health threats including infectious diseases, said there are 50 identified cases of diphtheria linked to migrants who were held at Manston as of 25 November. Seeker C.jpg

Many of the asylum seekers were walking in flip flops

Robert Jenrick - who is in charge of immigration in the government - said the risk to the wider UK population from onward spread of diphtheria is very low due to the high uptake of the diphtheria vaccine in this country.
The UKHSA has previously said that asylum seekers are most likely to have become infected with diphtheria before they arrived in the UK.
But many have criticised the government for not doing enough to contain the spread of infectious diseases. Seeker B.jpg

The asylum seekers showed us the scabs on their skin

We shared our findings with the Home Office - which deals with the UK’s immigration policy - and a spokesperson told us: “We take both the welfare of those in our care and our wider public health responsibilities extremely seriously.
"As such, we continue to work closely with the NHS and UKHSA to support individuals affected by diphtheria and limit the transmission of infection.”
The Home Office said asylum seekers have access to health and social care services after arriving in the UK - this includes access to free NHS services.
Some of the ways they are trying to limit the transmission of infection are through diphtheria vaccines, treatment with antibiotics and isolation processes.
They said they provide 24/7 health facilities at Manston as well as having plans to deal with health issues such as infectious diseases.
They added, improvements continue to be made at Manston to ensure the appropriate medical facilities are in place, including boosting the 24/7 medical facilities already on site run by trained medical staff and doctors.  
Follow us for more updates.

Exclusive: Asylum seekers released from Manston migrant centre with scabies-like symptoms