- 25 Sep 20
Residents of the direct provision centre in Kinsale, Co. Cork – where four positive cases have already been confirmed – fear that their jobs may be at risk, as a fourth group coronavirus testing session is scheduled to take place at the centre tomorrow, Saturday.
Fear of losing their jobs is causing residents at Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre in Cork to be reluctant to be tested for coronavirus, a resident at the Direct Provision centre has told Hot Press.
Already, four asylum seekers have tested positive for coronavirus at the Cork-based refugee accommodation centre, which houses 250 people who are currently awaiting a decision on their application for international protection.
The accommodation houses both single individuals and families. The first resident who tested positive for coronavirus at the centre was living in the singles block, Hot Press was told.
Three rounds of testing have taken place at the centre so far, but says the resident – fearing both stigmatisation and the inevitability that their jobs will be at risk if they test positive – not all residents have agreed to be swabbed.
"Clearly, asylum seekers are in a particularly vulnerable position," one local said. "It is completely wrong that they might lose their jobs by testing positive – but that is the reality of how low-paid workers are too often treated in Ireland."
Another coronavirus group testing session, the centre's fourth, has been scheduled for Saturday 26 September, from 3pm to 9 pm.
The HSE has urged all residents of the Kinsale Road Direct Provision Centre to come forward for testing.
FEELINGS OF FEAR
Arife Hysaj, an Albanian resident of the Kinsale Road Centre, told Hot Press that some residents feel they might lose their source of income in the event of a positive test. For this reason, they avoid testing.
Arife also argued that being tested positive can lead to stigmatisation.
“I say people would feel bad if resulted positive, because they’d be the target of all, like, ‘look he’s the one with the virus’, amongst other things,” she said.
"I think people are also scared because they're afraid if they result positive, they’d have to move somewhere away from the centre and they’d lose their jobs.”
Most asylum seekers living in the Kinsale Road centre have, Arife said, been living there for a long time and are understandably protective of their livelihoods in Cork.
"People are living here for years, and they have their life here now, as well as their jobs," Arife added.
Arife Hysaj lives at the Kinsale centre with her husband and two small children. She said that there is little room for social distancing at their centre – and since not all residents have been tested, feelings of fear loom large among the residents.
“Many more might have it who have no signs,” she said. "Social Distancing is difficult when we do laundry or are in the canteen or in the shared kitchen, but people are being more self-conscious in keeping their distance."
229 NEW CASES
A new study from South Korea, published in the Journal JAMA Internal Medicine, has found that around 30 per cent of people infected with coronavirus never develop symptoms, yet they possibly spread the virus.
Confusion about asymptomatic infections are rife, however, as many mistake pre-symptomatic infections – where the individual gradually becomes ill – with asymptomatic development of the virus, which refers to appearing healthy throughout the course of the infection.
There has been a steady increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Cork: the rebel county recorded 229 new cases over the past two weeks and it has been placed on the list of counties where people have to be particularly vigilant, in order to bring the rate of infection down. If the rate continues to rise, it is inevitable that NPHET will place Cork under lockdown again.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the challenges of living in communal spaces like Direct Provision centres in Ireland, and the too often shabby living conditions that prevail in these centres. Inevitably, frustrations are rising among asylum seekers.
Their concerns have been exacerbated by the threat of losing jobs if a positive test occurs. All of this is occurring against a backdrop of increasing racism, which has been highlighted by MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) – including a shocking, sustained racist campaign in Dundalk, with local Gardaí being accused of failing to investigate the gross intimidation of a teenager and his mother.
The boy’s mother was attacked by a group of people outside the family home. The woman told @thejournal_ie she was hit by a baseball bat and then kicked by a number of people while on the ground. The family is forced to leave neighbourhood for safety https://t.co/WQAYvNVYrC
— MASI - Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (@masi_asylum) September 25, 2020
Covid-19 cases have been an ongoing issue in Ireland's direct provision centres. As revealed by Hot Press, two meat plant workers, who are residents of Eyre Powell Direct Provision in Kildare, became ill with coronavirus in late July, prompting an outbreak at the centre where residents continued to go to work to save their jobs.
The new coalition Government has promised to end the Direct Provision System by the end of its lifetime.