Around 500 men are said to be at a hostel in Southwark, South London, despite a local council calling the facility unsafe to house rough sleepers
Asylum seekers are being put into hostels and forced to share rooms crammed with dozens of beds despite the rise of Covid, reports claim.
About 500 men are said to be at a hostel in Southwark, South London, despite a local council calling the facility unsafe to house rough sleepers.
That was said to be because of an inability to maintain proper social distancing in light of the rise of coronavirus.
It has been reported that because of a Covid outbreak at the facility in recent weeks a number of people had been infected.
It comes after new figures revealed the number of people who had made the dangerous journey across the English Channel in small boats this year had doubled the total for all of 2020.
At least 669 people succeeded in reaching the UK on Sunday, bringing the total for the year to at least 17,085, according to official data.
Small boats arrivals in 2021 now stand at more than double the figure for the whole of 2020, when 8,417 people crossed the Dover Strait.
The Independent reports that residents at the London facility had spoken of incidents where their roommates tested positive for Covid but couldn’t isolate until several days later.
It has been claimed that more than 15 people were sleeping in some of the rooms.
Southwark Council is said to have not been consulted about the plan to move people into the hostel, and wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel warning it poses “immediate risks” to both asylum seekers and local residents.
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The council was said to have demanded ‘urgent intervention’ to ensure the safety of residents there, saying an outbreak was ‘entirely predictable’ given overcrowding.
One resident, an Ethiopian national, told the publication: “We are worried. I don’t feel safe. It’s lots of people in a small space.
“Everyone has complained, but they don’t do anything about it. The staff say they can’t do anything and that we must talk to the Home Office, but the Home Office doesn’t respond to our calls.”
Another resident, from Eritrea, said two weeks ago a roommate had tested positive for Covid but remained in the shared room.
He said: “I immediately advised the hostel staff that he should isolate, but they didn’t tell him to. The guy was sick for three days. We had no masks at that time. He got very sick and one night I had to call an ambulance. It wasn’t until five days later that he got moved to another room.”
A spokesperson for Migrant Help, contracted to support asylum seekers, said it worked “hard to support as many asylum seekers as possible” and its average call waiting time in August was 13 minutes.
A Home Office spokesperson was reported to have said all of its accommodation “must meet relevant health and safety legislation and provide their latest health and safety risk assessment”.
They added: “Due to unprecedented demand we have had to use temporary accommodation to manage demands on the asylum estate and we encourage all local authorities to volunteer their support and work with us.
“We take the welfare of asylum seekers very seriously and work closely with our providers, Public Health England and other relevant authorities to ensure all medical advice is closely followed and people self-isolate where needed.”