Home Kent News New COVID cases found at Napier Barracks months after major outbreak

New COVID cases found at Napier Barracks months after major outbreak

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Original article from Kent Live

Cases of COVID-19 have once again been identified at Napier Barracks several months after a major outbreak at the camp.

Four dormitory blocks are in isolation after three cases of the virus were found at the facility in Folkestone, the PA news agency understands.

Nearly 200 people at the site contracted coronavirus earlier this year, leading to accusations that health advice had been ignored.

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The site has been dogged by allegations of poor conditions in communal dormitories, with inspectors describing an isolation block as "unfit for habitation".

The Home Office insisted again on Thursday (August 12) that it would be an "insult" to suggest that Napier Barracks is not "adequate" for asylum seekers.

New transfers to the barracks were halted after a High Court judge in June found the accommodation failed to meet a minimum standard, but resumed about two weeks ago.

The number of people at the site, which features dormitory-style accommodation, is around 230 as of today (August 12).

The department confirmed that those who tested positive have been removed from their dormitories but could not say if others are self-isolating.

A spokesman said: "All appropriate COVID protocols are being followed in accordance with Public Health England advice to manage the small number of cases currently at Napier Barracks.

"While pressure on the asylum system remains, we will use Napier Barracks to ensure we meet our statutory duty."

Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights director at Amnesty International, said: "Once again Napier Barracks is in the news for a COVID-19 outbreak because the Home Office continues its reckless policy of holding people in this wholly unsuitable accommodation.

KentLive uses the term people when referring to those who cross the Channel and arrive on our shores.

That's because, regardless of their status at the point of entry, those moving from one country to the other are human beings.

You will have seen them commonly referred to as migrants. This is not incorrect.

The UN Migration Agency defines a migrant as – any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status, whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary, what the causes for the movement are, or what the length of the stay is.

KentLive also refers to people in these circumstances as refugees.

The UN definition of refugees is – people who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalised violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection.

"No-one should be forced to live in these squalid and inhumane conditions, certainly not people suffering serious trauma from the tortures and terrors they have fled and endured on journeys to seek safety here.

"This latest outbreak only adds to the sense that Home Office ministers have lost all sight – or indeed care – for the people involved."

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Home Office officials defended their decision to continue using the site to MPs as they confirmed that half of the people living there are sleeping in dormitories.

Questions have also arisen in recent weeks about the future of the Ministry of Defence-owned site, with MPs and peers told it could be used to house asylum seekers for "another couple of years".

Original Article