Chicken pox and flu: Migrants are getting sick at the U.S.-Mexico border

Thursday, August 22, 2019
By Paul Martin

AUG. 19, 2019

Tijuana, Baja California — On her first day out of quarantine Thursday, 6-year-old Fernanda Martinez was ecstatic. She raced a mini-green quad up and down the hall outside the dark room where she spent four weeks separated from everyone because of a severe case of chicken pox.
Greeting all the other children at the Agape Misión Mundial shelter in Tijuana, Martinez decided they were all her best friends. She announced she was equally excited to see everyone.

Her scabs aren’t completely healed, but a doctor gave her the green-light to finally leave the room where people have been quarantined with varicela, or chicken pox.

“She cried and cried and cried because she could not go around any of the other children,” said her mother, Jasmine Martinez, a 34-year-old from Honduras. “I was crying for her because it was so hard seeing her suffering.”

Martinez said after fleeing gangs, traveling a rough road from Honduras, spending about a week in U.S. detention and then being returned to Mexico, where she and her two children don’t know anyone, coming down with chicken pox in a crowded Tijuana shelter was the challenge that finally caused her 6-year-old daughter to break down into tears.

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