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‘Comprehensive’ coronavirus testing programme to begin in direct provision centres from tomorrow

A “comprehensive” coronavirus testing programme will begin in direct provision centres from tomorrow, it has been announced.

ollowing Nphet recommendations, the department of justice and equality, together with the HSE, will be rolling out the programme in all accommodation centres which house asylum seekers and refugees in the country.

Staff will also be tested and testing will be free and voluntary.

According to the department, “each resident and staff member will be offered a test” apart from children under give people who have previously tested positive.

“Congregated settings, like accommodation centres, pose additional challenges during the pandemic to prevent and control the spread of the virus,” said a statement from the department.

“The comprehensive testing programme is an additional public health measure recommended by NPHET to safeguard residents and staff in Direct Provision Centres.

“It will help us to identify and isolate cases quickly and to assess the effectiveness of the public health measures put in place at Direct Provision Centres since March 2020. This will also help us to decide if extra supports are needed,” the statement added.

The department said that agreeing or refusing to be tested will not have an impact on a person’s asylum status.

“Neither a refusal to participate nor a positive result will affect a person’s status or application for international protection in any way. We strongly encourage all residents and staff to participate to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe from coronavirus.”

It said that the department, nor the HSE will confirm when certain centres will be tested for medical confidentiality reasons.

“The health authorities will only comment on cases or outbreaks of any illness (Covid-19 or otherwise) if there is a Public Health reason to do so,” the department said.

“Finally, we want to reassure residents, staff and the wider community that existing protections will also continue, including the agreed policy of transferring all positive cases and their close contacts offsite for self-isolation,” it added.

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