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Thousands of immigrants quarantined after being exposed to contagious viral diseases

'A new occurrence in custody'

U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have quarantined more than 5,000 immigrant adults who were potentially exposed to contagious viral diseases at immigrant detention centers.

Immigrant adults at 39 detention centers nationwide were ordered under quarantine after being exposed to mumps and chicken pox, CNN reported.

The majority of the immigrants, 4,276, were exposed to mumps while 825 immigrants were exposed to chicken pox. Just 99 immigrants were exposed to both diseases, which are easily prevented with vaccines.

"I think there is heightened interest in this situation because it's the mumps, which is a new occurrence in custody, but preventing the spread of communicable disease in ICE custody is something we have demonstrated success doing," Nathalie Asher, ICE executive associate director for enforcement and removal operations, told CNN.

"From an operational perspective, the impact is significant in the short and long term and will result in an increase in cohorted detainees' length of stay in detention, an inability to effect removal of eligible cohorted detainees, and postponing scheduled consular interviews for quarantined detainees," she explained.

ICE will quarantine each person for 25 days from the last incubation period.

Currently, ICE holds more than 50,000 single adult immigrants in detention. While so many have been quarantined due to exposure to the viral diseases, not every immigrant has actually contracted a disease.

The exact number of those with confirmed cases of mumps or chicken pox was not released. However, as CNN reported, ICE confirmed only 297 cases of mumps via blood test from September 2018 to June 13.

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