TD's COVID-19 concerns over local direct provision site
A local TD has written to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan after he was informed that ten residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Temple Accommodation Centre in Horseleap, and up to 20 people living in the direct provision facility have been placed in isolation.
He raised the health and safety concerns with the Minister for Justice in recent days amid growing unease among residents and groups in relation to issues such as the use of a communal kitchen, dining and laundry facilities at the centre on Westmeath/Offaly border.
Deputy Troy explained: “I’ve been informed that following extensive testing of the residents at Temple Spa Accommodation Centre, ten residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and up to 20 residents have been placed in isolation.
He complained that there is no justification for several people who are not related to be sharing rooms which makes it impossible to maintain social distancing.
Syed Irfan Rizvi, who lives in the centre with his family, is calling on the Minister to shut down the centre for deep cleaning and move all residents to self-contained or own door accommodation.
Meanwhile, Deputy Troy said also he believes there is a serious need for a deep clean of the centre to be carried out.
Concerns had been raised in recent weeks by the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), the New Horizon group who work with asylum seekers in the Temple centre, and residents themselves about their vulnerability to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Syed Irfan Rizvi has highlighted his concerns with the Department of Justice, IPAS, which manages the direct provision system, and the Ombudsman in recent weeks.
Last Thursday, national health officials confirmed that there are nine clusters of COVID-19 in direct provision centres countrywide. A cluster generally means two cases of more.
Figures in the national media from last week indicated there have been 62 cases of the coronavirus among residents in direct provision, 11 of which have involved hospitalisation.
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall warned last week that the highly contagious nature of the Covid-19 has highlighted the unsuitability of some accommodation in the Direct Provision system.
Management in the Temple centre would not answer any queries from the Westmeath Independent, instead referring the paper's questions to IPAS, who manage the direct provision system, and the Department of Justice.
When asked specifically about reports of 10 positive cases in Horseleap, a statement from the Department of Justice said medical information such as test results and release of the data relating to them are matters for the HSE in terms of public health.
“We can confirm that, in line with our agreed policy with the HSE, anyone with a positive COVID-19 result has been transferred to an offsite self-isolation facility where they are cared for until such time as the HSE considers that they can safely return to their centre,” it continued.
“When a resident is transferred to off-site self-isolation facilities, measures are in place to ensure transportation vehicles are fully deep cleaned before and after each transfer is undertaken, and all HSE infection control standards are fully implemented. These transfers are complex and are carefully planned and effected.”
The department stressed that their priority is the health of residents, staff and the wider community, and to this end, they are working closely with the HSE in managing the challenges of the public health crisis.