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27th March 2020 | Coronavirus, Direct provision, Press Releases

Prioritise Covid-19 Testing in Group-Living Situations to Save Lives

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The Green Party are calling for a lessening of the new Covid-19 testing restrictions, in cases of those in group-living situations such as prisons, direct provision centres and traveller accommodation.

Green Party Spokesperson for Justice and Equality Roderic O’Gorman TD:

“This issue needs to be addressed at every level – internationally, nationally and at a community level. We have had contacts with residents of Direct Provision centres in really worrying situations. I am calling on the Minister to consider whether people living in Direct Provision should be eligible to be tested if they only have one Covid19 symptom. There is a risk that they may spread the virus to others in close living quarters, where people are sleeping, eating and sharing toilet facilities in large numbers. This warrants a more flexible approach to the requirements around testing.

“There’s a danger of community spread in these conditions which must be addressed in the virus-testing regulations and support.”

Grace O’Sullivan MEP:

“We are debating the issue of Covid-19 in the European Parliament today, Thursday. At a European level I’ve submitted a written statement to Parliament and I’m also writing to the Commission calling for support for those particularly vulnerable people living in group situations at home and internationally.

“Compassion and health must be at the heart of decision-making around Covid-19 measures. For example, my team has spoken to one man living in direct provision in Waterford, who sounded particularly unwell and is essentially afraid to come out of his room for fear of spreading the virus to the other 150 residents at his centre. He described living conditions that are totally unsustainable in the current crisis, where, for example he’s being forced to share a shower with eight others and eat with large groups of people.”

Green Party Spokesperson for Social Protection, Waterford TD, Marc Ó Cathasaigh shares his colleagues’ concerns:

“We need compassionate, firm and decisive action here. So with, for example, hotel rooms and other accommodation coming on-stream, the emergency measures being put in place should also include those in group-living situations.

“If we act now we might be able to get ahead of the curve and avoid life-threatening consequences. At a local level, myself and Grace O’Sullivan MEP are writing to the local authority in Waterford to see what can be done to address this situation. Waterford County and City Council has a relatively good record around accommodation provision, let’s hope they and other local authorities around the country can act swiftly to limit the spread of Covid-19.”