Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about Covid-19 levels in immigration removal centres

On 9th June the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, received a written answer to a question from Baroness Williams of Trafford on immigrants displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: HL4966 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many residents of immigration removal centres (1) have displayed, or (2) are currently displaying, symptoms of COVID-19; and of those, how many have been tested. 

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The safety and health of people in the detention estate are of the utmost importance. We are following all Public Health England guidance and have robust contingency plans in place.

All immigration removal centres have dedicated health facilities run by doctors and nurses which are managed by the NHS or appropriate providers. The Home Office, its suppliers and NHS England healthcare providers in immigration removal centres are following PHE guidelines for the management of COVID-19. Universal testing is not currently recommended under these guidelines for those in detention or those being released. Testing of individuals in immigration detention will be dependent on individual circumstances.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 in IRCs, all centres are following a reverse cohorting process which commenced on 20 April 2020. This requires new arrivals to be isolated from the main population for a period of 14 days to verify that each individual is asymptomatic. If a detainee shows symptoms during this time, they are be moved to protective isolation for seven days.

As of 3 June 2020, there are no cases of COVID-19 in immigration removal centres.

There have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in detainees, a third individual was identified but after his release from detention had been agreed.

Local management information indicates that for the period 9 March to 31 May 2020, fifty-seven detainees have been placed in protective isolation for displaying COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms. There is currently one detainee in protective isolation after showing symptoms of COVID-19. Historic information on the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in IRCs is not held.