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A significant outbreak of COVID-19 has occurred at the Direct Provision centre located in the heart of Ennis.

The Clare Echo has learned that all residents of the Direct Provision Centre at The Clare Lodge have been transferred to Dublin where they are in quarantine with just shy of forty people approximately testing positive for COVID-19.

The Clare Echo understands that the first positive case associated with this outbreak became known on Thursday last. The person affected were believed to be moved out of The Clare Lodge but further cases emerged over the weekend, this figure continued to grow and the centre was shut down on Tuesday.

Of the 36 residents, 27 are said to have tested positive for the virus while nine of the eleven staff members have also been diagnosed with COVID-19. The HSE does not comment on specific cases.

Concerns have been expressed to The Clare Echo that detail on the first cases last week where not informed to all individuals at The Clare Lodge. Subsequently residents continued to work at various locations and also mixed at numerous spots throughout the town of Ennis, heightening the risk of further transmission.

Representatives of BridgeStock Care Ltd who manage the Direct Provision centre in Ennis declined to comment when contacted by The Clare Echo.

The Department of Justice, the HSE and the Department of Public Health Mid-West have all been approached for comment on how the matter was handled.

In January 2020, The Clare Lodge opened as a Direct Provision Centre, at the time it housed 64 single residents but this figure dropped with the onset of the pandemic to allow for social distancing and the following of HSE guidelines.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth told The Clare Echo they could not commence on specific cases or outbreaks.

Public health officials in each community health organisation area guide the Department in the management of COVID-19 cases in the region, the spokesperson outlined. “Where off-site isolation is deemed necessary, a resident is moved to the off-site facility and supported while there. The Department will continue to work with the HSE and the Department of Health in the best interests of all residents whilst we remain in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic.

“The health and wellbeing of all residents during the pandemic remains the highest priority for this Department.  To that end a wide range of measures have been put in place across the accommodation network to address any COVID-19 related issues should they arise.  These measures were implemented in collaboration with the HSE and informed by regional public health officials and infection control teams”.

Measures kept under review by a joint HSE and Department monitoring group include provision for self-isolation facilities in Centres and offsite self-isolation at HSE and IPAS isolation facilities, increased capacity to support social distancing and provision of PPE.

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