COVID-19 outbreak reported at third UK immigration detention centre
Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, which is located near Heathrow airport has reported an outbreak of COVID-19 in the centre. It’s the third immigration removal centre in the UK to have reported an outbreak.
The Guardian reports that at least two detainees have tested positive, alongside a number of staff members.
Earlier this month, Brook House immigration removal centre was forced to close temporarily due to an outbreak of coronavirus. Another outbreak was also recorded at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire.
As well as these outbreaks in removal centres, at least 8 asylum seekers being housed in former army barracks in Kent, the Napier barracks, have tested positive for the virus.
Since the news of the outbreaks, 73 organisations have written a letter to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, demanding that detainees be released and for deportations to be halted.
The letter, which has been signed by groups such as Amnesty International, said:
“It is now clearer than it has ever been that the continued use of immigration detention cannot be consistent with public health and undermines national efforts to bring coronavirus under control. The Home Secretary herself this week urged people to ‘play your part’ in the fight against coronavirus, reiterating the urgency of the situation.”
The letter also urges the Home Office to release regular data about COVID-19 in immigration detention.
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