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A US federal judge has ordered the release of 124 migrant children held at three family detention centres infected with the novel coronavirus, the media reported on Saturday.

In the order on Friday, District Judge Dolly Gee said the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) centres in the states of Kansas, Pennsylvania and Texas were “on fire” and there was no more time for half-measures, the BBC reported.

She ruled that the children must be released by mid-July, into the custody of suitable sponsors.

The sponsors could include the children’s own detained parents, who could be released with tracking devices, if necessary.

According to a report in The Hill news website, the number of minors being detained has dropped in recent months, though ICE said in May it was detaining 184 children at the three centres, which are separate from Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) facilities for unaccompanied children.

Activists have been urging the government to release families detained together given the rapid spread of the COVID-19 through detention facilities.

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