A number of Covid-19 outbreaks have been confirmed across the immigration detention estate and asylum seeker accommodation, prompting warnings of a major public health risk and calls to release individuals into the community.
Harmondsworth immigration removal centre (IRC), near Heathrow, the largest of its kind in Europe, is the third such centre to experience an outbreak. It is understood that there are at least two detainees who have tested positive for Covid along with a number of staff.
In addition, at least one asylum seeker being held at a former army barracks in Kent being used as initial accommodation by the Home Office has tested positive for Covid after taking a test on Wednesday.
The man is being held at Napier barracks in Folkestone while he awaits a decision on his asylum claim. He and more than 25 others have been isolating in blocks 5 and 6 of the barracks since individuals first developed symptoms. The Guardian understands as many as eight positive tests have been returned.
Last week the Home Office temporarily closed another IRC – Brook House near Gatwick – due to a Covid outbreak. There has also been a Covid outbreak at Morton Hall IRC in Swinderby, near Lincoln.
New Covid outbreak at third UK immigration removal centre The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ The Guardian.