UK diphtheria outbreak at migrant processing centre at Manston confirmed by Home Office

The centre which is located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet opened in January 2022.

An outbreak of diphtheria has been confirmed at an immigration processing centre in Manston, Kent.

The Home Office says it's working closely with health professionals following the outbreak.

The department has confirmed there are a small number of cases at the centre, and that those affected have been given antibiotics and have followed the isolation guidelines.

Opened by the Home Office in January 2022, the centre is located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet.

Earlier this month the Prisoner Officer's Association warned the centre was at capacity and struggling to cope following an influx of asylum seekers.

The Home Office said that health facilities are available at the immigration centre 24 hours a day and that the individuals affected are being supported.

In a statement a Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of a very small number of cases of diphtheria reported at Manston.

"Full medical guidance and protocols have been followed. 

“We take the safety and welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and are working closely with health professionals and the UK Health Security Agency to ensure the instances are contained and to support the individuals affected.”

The asylum seeker processing centre at Manston Credit: PA

What is Diphtheria?

According to NHS England Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that affects the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin, and can be spread by coughs and sneezes.

It is rare in the UK, but health chiefs say there's a small risk of catching it if you travel to some parts of the world.

Since 2018 there has been an increase in cases in Indonesia, India, South America and Africa.

You can avoid it by getting vaccinated.

Symptoms of diphtheria include:

  • a thick grey-white coating that may cover the back of your throat, nose and tongue

  • a high temperature (fever)

  • sore throat

  • swollen glands in your neck

  • difficulty breathing and swallowing

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