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Compact living conditions at the Clare Lodge Direct Provision centre in Ennis have fuelled concerns that a repeat outbreak of COVID-19 is likely until residents are vaccinated.

As first reported by The Clare Echo, all Direct Provision residents at The Clare Lodge in Ennis
were transferred to Dublin to quarantine after a significant outbreak of the virus emerged.

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 and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth do not comment on specific cases.

County cases of COVID-19 have not been provided since the HSE cyber attack. Figures obtained by The Clare Echo show that 9 cases were recorded on May 16th, 7 on May 17th, 8 on May 18th, 8 on May 19th, 5 on May 20th, 0 on May 21st, less than five on May 22nd, 5 on May 23rd and less than five on May 24th.

Concerns have been expressed to The Clare Echo that detail on the first cases two weeks ago 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.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, one Ennis resident cautioned that a repeat outbreak is possible as the living conditions of the centre make it very difficult to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The Clare Echo has learned that two residents that have completed their period in quarantine returned to DP centre on Tuesday night.

Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) said it was “a huge concern” that Direct Provision residents had yet to be vaccinated, “the situation in the Clare Lodge has amplified that concern”. The Kilrush woman stated, “Anyone living in a congregated setting is more at risk. We saw that with nursing homes throughout the whole Covid-19 pandemic and that should have been a lesson that priority should be given to congregated settings, both to staff members and residents”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth told The Clare Echo that they are guided by the advice of public health officials in the management of COVID-19 “including 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 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”.

Several measures have been introduced to address COVID-19 issues, the spokesperson commented. The measures include the provision for self-isolation facilities in centres and offsite, increased capacity to support physical and social distancing plus enhanced cleaning regimes and provision of PPE.

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