Detention Centres Risk Rapid Transmission

Image: ABC News

Week 5 in-class assessment.

Conditions inside Australian detention centres have placed 1400 asylum seekers, other non-citizens and centre staff at risk of a Covid 19 outbreak.

Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases president Dr Joshua Davies said crowded conditions would limit social distancing and adequate isolation measures.

Dr Davies said there were currently “almost no infection controls” inside detention centres.

Detainees are also facing shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitiser and soap, queuing in proximity for meals and services and living four to a room in some centres.

“You can’t wash your hands if you don’t have soap and you can’t keep your distance from other people when you are locked up in crowded conditions,” Dr Davies said.

A spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs has said there are plans for dealing with a potential outbreak within the detention network.

“Detainees displaying any Covid-19 symptoms can be quarantined and tested in line with advice from health officials.”

The Department said “a range of measures” have been introduced and are under “continual review” with both staff and detainees remaining informed of preventative measures and personal hygiene standards.

Doctors for Refugees co-founder Dr Barri Phataford called for the urgent release of detainees to prevent rapid transmission of the virus.

“Keeping people unnecessarily locked up in close confinement … when the rest of the country is being urged to stay in their own four square metres is not only cruel, callous and highly discriminatory, it is potentially exacerbating a public health crisis.”