Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
447. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the details of measures taken at a centre (details supplied) to mitigate against the risk of Covid-19 transmission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28318/21]
I can assure the Deputy that throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the health and well-being of all persons accommodated by my Department has remained the highest priority for me and my officials in the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS).
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 are implemented in collaboration with the HSE and informed by regional public health officials and infection control teams.
The measures, which are kept under regular review by a joint HSE/DCEDIY monitoring group, include:
- Provision for self-isolation facilities in Centres and offsite self-isolation at HSE and IPAS isolation facilities
- Increased capacity to support physical and social distancing
- Enhanced cleaning regimes and provision of PPE
- Regular communications and information, translated into several languages, on public health advice to residents and centre managers
- Provision of a free, confidential and independent support line for residents operated by the Jesuit Refugee Service
- Cocooning of all medically vulnerable and over 65 residents and
- Participation in the HSE Accommodation scheme for healthcare workers.
All centres are following the guidelines that were published by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). These are publicly available at its website www.hpsc.ie. That guidance exists precisely because it is recognised that congregated settings such as IPAS accommodation centres present specific challenges in this pandemic.
Centre managers have increased the standard and frequency of cleaning throughout our centres paying particular attention to communal areas. A regular supply of hand sanitiser for centres is in place and this is distributed to centres for the use of residents and staff as required. Other PPE such as masks, gloves, visors and aprons are distributed as needed and in line with the HPSC guidelines for its appropriate use in residential settings.
The Department is guided by the advice of Public Health officials in each Community Health Organisation area as regards how cases of COVID-19 at centres in their region are to be managed, including decisions on when and where off-site isolation is deemed necessary. All information relating to the medical condition of residents and health services provided to them, including the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 cases, are matters for the HSE. Where off-site isolation is deemed necessary, a resident is moved to the off-site facility and supported while there.
The most recent Covid related guidelines for IPAS Accommodation Centres were communicated to all residents on 18 May 2021. The Covid Related Guidelines for IPAS Accommodation Centres 17 May 2021 replaces the IPAS Living with COVID Plan. The new guidelines explain the restrictions in place and the procedures surrounding general and organisational visits to the centre, overnight absences and the current transfer policy.
My Department will continue to work closely with the HSE and public health authorities to ensure that guidance and measures in place at all centres are sufficient in light of changing conditions.