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Over 600 asylum seekers moved to different site over social distancing fears

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan updated the Dail on the situation.

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Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said that over 600 people in Direct Provision have been moved to a different site because of physical distancing and cocooning measures.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said that over 600 people in Direct Provision have been moved to a different site because of physical distancing and cocooning measures.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said that over 600 people in Direct Provision have been moved to a different site because of physical distancing and cocooning measures.

Over 600 people in Direct Provision have been moved to a different site because of physical distancing and cocooning measures.

The Minister for Justice confirmed that almost 8,000 asylum seekers are being provided with accommodation and support across the State.

There have been concerns about the ability of people living in Direct Provision to social distance and self-isolate because of cramped conditions.

However, Charlie Flanagan told the Dail on Wednesday that the number of people sharing a room is a maximum of three.

Mr Flanagan claimed that the HSE has assured his department that its handling of residents in Direct Provision centres is “appropriate”.

“HSE advice has evolved over a period of time and we’ve evolved our responses with it,” he said.

“We’ve been assured by both the HSE and the office of the chief medical officer that our approach to this issue is appropriate.

“From the outset we recognise the need for offsite self-isolation facilities for individuals identified in four suitable premises, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Dundalk, with a capacity for 299 people.

“Self-isolation facilities have nonprofit section 39 organisations on site, providing psychosocial support to residents and residents that are being supported by HSE health care professionals.

“Since the start of the year, over 1,550 permanent and temporary new beds have been procured in the new centres.

“Over 600 residents have relocated to support social and physical distancing in centres and cocooning measures.

“We’ve reduced the number of people sharing a room to a maximum of three and such shared spaces constitute household in line with the HSE national guidance and congregated settings.”

He said that all residents over the age of 65 have been cocooning including those who have a medical illness.

“More generally residents been made aware of the need to practice social and physical distance, good hand hygiene coughing, sneezing etiquette,” Mr Flanagan added.

“All managers have been given detailed HSE guidance.”

It comes as the minister also confirmed that immigration permissions, due to expire between May 20 and July 20 2020, will be automatically extended for two months.

This includes people in Ireland on short stay visas and those whose permissions have already been extended by the previous notice issued on March 20.

PA