Asylum seekers who say they are "trapped" in Covid-19 infested direct provision centres can isolate at a Dublin hotel instead, the National Public Health Emergency Team said.
Anyone who could not isolate where they lived could instead go to a hotel in Citywest in Dublin, including asylum seekers, Dr Siobhan Ní Bhriain, Lead in Integrated Care with the HSE announced at the public health press briefing last night.
The Department of Justice later confirmed that asylum seekers may be accommodated at the hotel, or at its four dedicated off-site self-isolation facilities and that the HSE would decide on the appropriate location based on an individual’’s medical need.
The expanded Covid-19 testing capacity created for nursing homes could soon be extended to asylum seekers, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohon said.
The announcements came hours after the the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission questioned the Minister for Equality, Immigration, and Integration David Stanton about how a COVID-19 outbreak in a Kerry direct provision centre was being managed.
A major coronavirus outbreak at the the Skellig Star hotel Direct Provision centre in Caherciveen has sparked protests and pleas for help from both asylum seekers and local residents.
At least 23 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed at the centre - approximately one quarter of all residents - who say that self-isolating at the centre is impossible.
Nationally, 164 Covid-19 cases have been reported in nineteen Direct Provision centres.
A statement from the IHREC said that while affected residents at the Kerry centre have reportedly been moved to isolation facilities, the situation has caused "considerable fears" among the remaining residents and those who live nearby.
The IHREC has asked Minister Stanton to clarify what public health guidance has been provided to residents and management of the Cahersiveen Direct Provision centre.
It also requested clarification on how that guidance is being implemented and what is being done to protect the residents’’ health and wellbeing.
The IHREC said that it was "particularly concerned" by media reports that residents who may have come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case face more onerous restrictions on their movements outside the centre than the population at large.
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for a new approach to providing for those seeking asylum in Ireland, the body said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that Minister Stanton will carefully consider the IHREC’s correspondence.