Covid-19 was "transported by bus" from Dublin to Kerry, a Fianna Fáil TD says.
At the Oireachtas Committee on Covid-19, Kerry TD Norma Foley said she has seen "verifiable evidence" that the first case of Covid-19 at the former Skellig Star hotel was isolated one day after arrival and was reported to the Department of Justice on March 24 — six days before the HSE was alerted.
"That date puzzles me as I have verifiable evidence of written communication from the Skellig Star to the Department of Justice and Equality on March 24 confirming a suspected case of Covid-19.
"If the Department of Justice and Equality knew of a suspected case on March 24, why was the HSE not aware of it until 30 March, almost a week later?
"This timeline confirms unequivocally that Covid-19 was transported by bus on March 18 and March 19 to the Skellig Star and the community of Caherciveen. To my mind, at the very least this was a grave oversight and at worst an unequivocal dereliction of duty of care to all concerned."
Department of Justice officials admitted in internal meetings that they would need to find 1,500 additional bedrooms for people in direct provision if they were to adhere to the desire of Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan, that non-family members should not share bedrooms.
Minutes from the Department’s International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) COVID 19 Group on April 30, show that officials raised concerns with the Deputy chief medical officer Alan Smith about the position on people in direct provision centres sharing rooms.
“Participants noted that should the advice from the social inclusion office regarding room sharing change, it would require a minimum of 1200-1500 additional bedrooms,” the minutes state.
“There would be significant supply issues in sourcing this, enormous local concerns about new centres being opened, and logistical issues in terms of moving 1000-2000 residents around the country during the current period when movement is strongly discouraged.”