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Coronavirus outbreak in Lleida linked to the horticultural sector

The coronavirus outbreak that has spread in the Lleida region of Segrià is closely linked to the fruit and vegetable sector of the region. Twelve of the 20 outbreaks detected in the area correspond to such companies and 28% of those hospitalized in Lleida were workers in the fruit sector, reports José Luis Morales, head of Covid at the Arnau de Vilanova Hospital. He described the situation as "critical".

The reason for these figures is mainly the working conditions of the seasonal workers during the fruit picking campaign in the area; something that also affects the neighboring province of Huesca, which has already decreed the return to phase 2 of the de-escalation process for the capital and several regions.

"Seasonal workers are not being criminalized; the problem is their living conditions, which make it difficult for containment measures to be enforced," said Morales. The specialist said that the health system is prepared for people who are registered citizens, but the huge number of seasonal workers without a specific address and in situations of overcrowding at times has made it difficult to monitor these patients.

For his part, the president of the Official College of Physicians of Lleida, Ramon Mur, has criticized the lack of coordination between institutions and their improvisation, as back in May, the central and regional governments had already been alerted about the risks involved in having "a large number of people coming to the area without a contract looking for seasonal employment."

"The problem of seasonal workers sleeping on the streets or in substandard, overcrowded housing is not a new one, it happens every year, and companies are largely responsible for that. They should guarantee housing for a large part of the workers," says Gemma Casal, member of the Fruita amb Justícia Social platform, which for years has been denouncing the violation of "both labor and fundamental and human rights" of agricultural workers, most of them migrants and in an irregular situation.


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