A man’s death at the Manston asylum center may have been caused by a diphtheria infection, the Home Office has said.
Initial tests at a hospital near the center in Kent, which has struggled with overcrowding and outbreaks of disease, came back negative – but a follow-up PCR test was positive.
The result indicates that “diphtheria may be the cause of the illness”, a statement said.
The man died in hospital on 19 November after being believed to have entered the UK on a small boat seven days earlier.
A coroner has yet to confirm the cause of death.
A government spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of the man who has died and all those affected by this loss.
“Initial infectious test results processed by a local hospital for an illness were negative, but a follow-up PCR test was positive, indicating that diphtheria may be the cause of the illness. The coroner will conclude in due course.
“We take the safety and welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and are taking all of the necessary steps following these results.
“We are offering diphtheria vaccinations to people at Manston, which has 24/7 health facilities and trained medical staff.”
Manston provides basic temporary accommodation to small boat arrivals while they undergo processing and can hold 1,000 people, with a maximum of 1,600, but was described in October as being “catastrophically overcrowded”.
The Home Office confirmed on Tuesday that the site was completely empty.