- 26 Sep 20
Hot Press has spoken to a resident at Lisanisk House Hotel in Carrickmacross – which is one of a number of direct provision centres where fresh positive tests for coronavirus have been confirmed this week.
Asylum seekers living in Lisanisk House Hotel (pictured) in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan are asking the HSE to move families from the centre – where an outbreak of Covid-19 has been confirmed.
In a message sent to residents by the Carrickmacross centre’s manager, which has been seen by Hot Press, it was revealed that an undisclosed number of people at the centre have tested positive for the virus.
“I’m confirming we have COVID cases at Lisanisk. Please don’t move from unit to unit,” the manager said.
Speaking to Hot Press, a resident at the centre, said that people at the ‘upstairs flats’ of the hotel, where there were positive cases of the virus, had come in close contact with each other.
“Positive and negative mixed in a flat,” he said. “We have a three-month-old baby there, five-month-old baby in the centre.
"We are now asking all families to be removed,” he added.
The resident said that when he received the manager’s message advising him not to move about, he was already at work. However, he was assured that he hadn’t come into close contact with positive cases “unless you have mixed into other units.”
The resident said he first became suspicious that there were positive cases in the Carrickmacross centre after some cleaners started to wear masks.
“On the 24th [September], we discovered that the cleaners were wearing a mask which was unusual because they don’t really use masks,” he said. “We don’t know how many cases, but they are more than one.”
The resident said he is especially concerned about the safety of families with very young babies. Studies have confirmed that newborn babies are susceptible to contracting the virus. Infected, pregnant mothers can also transmit the virus to the foetus.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been isolated cases of newborns who have tested positive for coronavirus.
In July, a baby born in a Paris hospital tested positive for the virus and later developed symptoms of brain inflammation. The baby later recovered without treatment, however.
The resident at the Carrickmacross direct provision centre said that managers must inform all residents to take precautionary measures as soon as one person tests positive and that withholding information would not help to slow the spread of the disease.
A small county with a population of a little over 61,000, Monaghan has recorded 33 cases of coronavirus over the past two weeks. Carrickmacross has an estimated population of just over 5,000 people. It is the second largest town in the county, after Monaghan town.
LACK OF SECURITY
In a parallel development, residents at Athlone Direct Provision Centre have also told Hot Press that the manager has confirmed positive cases at the centre. Again, the number of affected residents has not been disclosed.
Meanwhile, as already confirmed by Hot Press, four asylum seekers living in Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre in Cork, have tested positive for the virus.
The refugee accommodation centre houses 250 people, and many of them are reluctant to be swabbed, citing the fear of losing their jobs in the event of a positive result.
A fresh round of blanket testing is scheduled for today, Saturday 26 September, at the centre with the HSE urging all residents to come forward for testing.
In July, as reported by Hot Press, asylum seekers living in the then-coronavirus-stricken Eyre Powell Hotel in Newbridge, Co Kildare, continued going to work despite being advised by the HSE to stay in their rooms.
Two asylum seekers working in a Dog Food plant in Naas were the first residents of Eyre Powell to become ill with Covid-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus.
Despite leading a communal life, most asylum seekers also work in congregated settings, from meat factories to fruit farms. They are among the most vulnerable members of society, with a chronic lack of security in their employment, which also tends to be low paid.
It is not unusual for seasonal and migrant workers to live in shared accommodations provided by meat factory and fruit picking companies – as is the case for most West Cork meat and poultry plant workers.
Over 1,500 cases of coronavirus in the country are associated with outbreaks in 28 meat plants.
The coronavirus pandemic has shed a revealing light on the often brutal challenges faced by asylum seekers and migrant workers in Ireland.
• Update: As events at the centre evolve, it is unclear how much support there is for the call for families to be removed. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the management told Hot Press that all of the necessary coronavirus protocols are observed in the centre.
"Just to inform you," the representative said, "that all apartments here are self contain(ed) and we ensure that both residents and staff adhere to health and safety precautions in accordance to HSE guidelines."