Direct provision centres’ Covid-19 response ‘deeply troubling’ - Irish Refugee Council

Direct Provision is the most “disturbing” aspect of Ireland’s response to Covid-19, according to the Irish Refugee Council.
Direct provision centres’ Covid-19 response ‘deeply troubling’ - Irish Refugee Council

Additional reporting: Paul Hosford

Direct Provision is the most “disturbing” aspect of Ireland’s response to Covid-19, according to the Irish Refugee Council.

One of the reasons for this - according to CEO Nick Henderson - is that 1,700 directive provision residents can’t physically distance themselves from other residents.

While moves have been taken to help up to 750 residents, not enough is being done for the others.

And they include those quarantined inside the Skellig Star hotel in Caherciveen, Co Kerry, where the first four positive cases were confirmed on April 14.

He said he cannot understand why the centre isn’t being shut down.

“This remains a deeply troubling situation,” he said.

He was speaking after the Irish Examiner’s revelations about the hotel last Friday.

These included the fact that a lift engineer who had to carry out a service there five days after the first Covid-19 case was confirmed was repeatedly told the virus was not present in the hotel at the time.

“There is a trail of infection and it would seem, because there is - according to residents - no deep cleaning going on, any infection is lingering,” Mr Henderson said.

“There is one standard for people who have a house and can physically distance from their neighbours.

“But there is another standard for people in congregated settings like direct provision.

“While the rest of the country de-escalates, there is a risk that congregated settings will remain vulnerable.

“This is a deeply disturbing aspect to Ireland’’s reaction to Covid 19.

“The country’s chief medical officer says we should all physically distance ourselves from each other but residents in direct provision centres cannot physically distance themselves from each other.”

He said that while something has been done to alleviate the problem for up to 750 people in direct provision, there are still 1,700 people sharing bedrooms with strangers.

“There is a huge problem here in that we are being told by the Chief Medical Officer to adhere to physical distancing,” he said.

“1,700 people cannot do that.”

Last month, the Department of Justice stated: “In all matters related to the Covid-19 pandemic, public health advice from the HSE and the National Public Health Emergency Team is followed”.

It emerged yesterday the daily number of new Covid-19 deaths in Ireland has fallen to its lowest level for six weeks.

According to the National Public Health Emergency Team, 12 more people with COVID-19 have died.

But the country’’s Chief Clinical Officer said an additional 10,000 people would have died from Covid-19 in Ireland had the reproduction of the virus remained at the same rate as the beginning of March.

Speaking at a HSE briefing on the Covid-19 outbreak, Dr Colm Henry said the current reproductive, or R number, was between 0.3 and 0.8.

That means that each person infected with the virus has in turn infected less than one other person on average.

At the beginning of March, that figure was between 2.0 and 2.5.

Dr Henry said that had that continued and physical distancing measures not been taken, Ireland would likely have seen 12,000 deaths by the end of last week.

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