Two residents of a Direct Provision centre in Killarney, Co Kerry have tested positive for Covid-19.
The two men at Linden House, one of three Direct Provision centres in the town, tested positive two weeks ago and were moved from the centre initially. However, news of the confirmed cases has only emerged locally now. It is believed that both have fully recovered.
However, the failure by the Department of Justice to inform the community in Killarney has come under fire.
The opening of what was a third Direct Provision Centre in Killarney, with very little notice, at the former guesthouse and restaurant opposite a number of primary schools and the town’s garda station led to public protests in December 2017.
Local councillor Donal Grady (Ind) who organised one of the marches at the time called for the building, which is privately owned, to be leased by the council and used for local homeless persons.
He has now called for a detailed breakdown of all transfers of asylum seekers to centres in Killarney since the pandemic. He said the community should have been informed of the outbreak in the town and he was raising the matter at the weekly web meetings between councillors and management in Kerry.
He also called on the department to clarify if the centre had been locked down because of the positive tests there.
Cllr Grady also said he would be asking the the Department of Justice about movements to centres in Killarney during the pandemic.
“Why were public representatives and the public not informed of the outbreak at Linden House?” Cllr Grady said.
His criticism followed the apology from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to the people of Caherciveen for the anger and upset caused by the opening of a Direct Provision centre in the town.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said the figure for residents currently residing in accommodation centres in Kerry has not increased.
As of May 10th, there were 517 people being accommodated in accommodation centres in Kerry. There is an overall total contracted capacity of 671 in the county.
Final moves to centres centres nationwide were effected on April 14 and April 15, in conjunction with the HSE.
The HSE said in any confirmed outbreak of Covid-19, consultants from the Department of Public Health are involved in an Outbreak Control Team and provide advice on the management of the outbreak.
“Where there are outbreaks in residential facilities which are not under our control (including Direct Provision centres), the local Department of Public Health gives clear advice to both the management and the residents of the centres to support them in responding appropriately,” it said.
In any case where someone has tested positive for Covid-19, they are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 is identified and also advised to self-isolate for 14 days, monitor themselves for symptoms and contact their GP if they develop symptoms.
The importance of self-isolating is stressed to any confirmed with Covid-19 and their close contacts, as it is key to bringing any outbreak under control.