- 04 Mar 21
An outbreak of Coronavirus at a direct provision centre in Rosslare Port Lodge has been causing considerable disquiet among residents. Now, they are asking the HSE to transfer those who have been infected to an off-site facility.
Residents at a Direct Provision Centre in Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford, are asking the HSE to transfer people infected with coronavirus to off-site self-isolation facilities. They also want close-contacts of those who have been infected to be moved.
The request stems from concerns among certain residents that public health guidelines for self-isolation have not been appropriately followed at the direct provision centre at Rosslare Port Lodge.
Residents say that more than five people have contracted the virus at the centre. Texts sent to residents by the centre manager, which have been shown to Hot Press say “in-house restrictions” will be in place until March 18, and that the centre is close to containing the outbreak.
Residents insist, however, that in-house restrictions do not follow public-health guidelines for isolation.
Another blanket-testing was carried out at the centre yesterday.
ISOLATION. WHAT ISOLATION?
Speaking to Hot Press, one resident whose roommate tested positive for the virus said he had to return to what he called ‘an infected room’ to collect his belongings before going into a separate room to isolate.
“What is the point of going into isolation if I have to go back into an infected room to get my things?” he asked.
The way the resident tells it, he was mostly “forgotten about” while completing his isolation stint at the centre. He insisted that he had only received one meal a day during that time.
A two-year-old boy has contracted the virus at the centre. The child’s mother said she isolated with him in a separate room. However, she said that she – and other mothers whose children were in close contact with her child and had to quarantine as a result – regularly went to a shared kitchen and cooked.
There is a self-catering system in place at Port Lodge Hotel, which means residents can cook for themselves.
Concerned about the issue, the woman says she asked to be transferred to an off-site self-isolation facility in recent days. The International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) – part of the Department of Children and Equality – sent a letter on Wednesday saying she was required to move to an off-site facility. The letter doesn’t make any mention of the fact that the resident had herself asked to be removed.
“IPAS has been advised that you and your son are required to self-isolate due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus,” the letter says.
“[She] was the one who had put in the request, that she has to go isolate in a proper isolation place,” another resident said.
She is now quarantining at Citywest Hotel – which has been turned into a designated isolation facility for asylum-seekers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Another resident confirmed that the manager of the facility at Rosslare Port Lodge told them not to leave their rooms. Despite this, some people have been moving about, especially mothers who have to cook for kids in isolation.
The Department of Children and Equality has asked journalists not to contact either contractors or their staff for comment directly.
JUMPING OUT THE WINDOW
There is another reason mothers want to be removed from the centre. Many find that trying to keep small children in one room for the two weeks required under the guidelines for self-isolation can be mentally challenging – for both kids and parents.
“It’s really hard on my child because he has no idea what's going on, and he hears other kids outside playing, and it's hard to keep him inside," the resident who was removed from the centre on Wednesday said last week.
She said isolation facilities are more likely to provide space for patients to move about, making the experience easier for children.
“The kids are so traumatised,” one mother said. She said the kid who came down with the virus almost jumped out the window in their room to escape.
“I said to her mother be careful – he was jumping out of the window,” she told Hot Press.
The woman said that her own child also seems traumatised, after the self-isolation stint at their centre.
“She does not want to mingle with people anymore because of this,” she said. “Before this, people were friendly here. Now, nobody wants anything to do with anybody.”
“I think if they had moved the first person who got the virus out of the centre, it wouldn’t have come to this,” another resident said.
DEVISED SEVERAL MEASURES
Asked why residents who had contracted the virus, and their close-contacts, were not removed from some centres a spokesperson for the HSE declined to comment and asked Hot Press to contact the Department of Children and Equality for a response.
"The department is guided by the advice of Public Health Officials" about "how cases of Covid-19 at centres in their region are to be managed,” says a spokesperson for the Department of Children and Equality.
That includes, they said, "decisions on when and where off-site isolation is deemed necessary."
“Where off-site isolation is deemed necessary, a resident is moved to the off-site facility and supported while there,” the spokesperson said.
They said that they are working closely with the HSE and the Department of Health to provide the best possible care for sick residents.
“The health and wellbeing of all residents during the pandemic remains the highest priority for this Department,” they said.
The Department, it was explained, has devised several measures "to address any Covid-19 related issues should they arise.”
These measures include preparing self-isolation facilities; increased capacity to facilitate social-distancing; what are described as “enhanced cleaning regimes and provision of PPE"; and "cocooning of all medically vulnerable and over-65 residents.