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Widespread Covid-19 testing to begin tomorrow in all direct provision centres

The testing rollout follows a recommendation from NPHET.

Direct Provision centre in Kerry.
Direct Provision centre in Kerry.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Justice and the HSE have today confirmed that widespread testing will begin in all direct provision centres from tomorrow. 

It follows recommendations by the National Public Health Emergency Team that a comprehensive testing regime should be introduced for staff and residents, including emergency reception and orientation centres.

In a statement this afternoon, the Department of Justice said: “Congregated settings, like accommodation centres, pose additional challenges during the pandemic to prevent and control the spread of the virus.

“The Department of Justice and Equality and the HSE have worked closely together since the outset of the pandemic to put in place a range of measures for the safety and protection of all residents and staff, including opening additional temporary accommodation to facilitate physical and social distancing in centres.”

It said the additional testing regime will allow cases to be isolated and additional measures be taken should the need arise. 

It also said that where a resident refuses to participate in testing, it will not affect their status or application for international protection.

“We strongly encourage all residents and staff to participate to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe from coronavirus. Each resident and staff member will be offered a test. Children aged under 5 years and people who have previously tested positive for Covid-19 will not be tested. 

“Both the [Department] and the HSE are committed to protecting the identity and medical confidentiality of all residents and staff, as required by law. For that reason, neither organisation will confirm information about individuals or locations including the timetable for testing in individual centres.”

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Concerns around the spread of Covid-19 in direct provision centres have been ongoing for months now after a number of meat plant workers living in direct provision were confirmed cases. 

Reports suggested that workers were afraid to speak about their symptoms out of fear of losing their jobs. 

On Wednesday, Trade union SIPTU said it was aware of a group of workers at a meat processing plant who have been told their contracts will not be renewed because of the high risk associated with their living situation in a Direct Provision centre.

Previously TheJournal.ie reported that workers in this facility who live in Direct Provision had their hours cut and were segregated from other employees.  

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