Three asylum seekers detained in a Melbourne hotel have tested positive to COVID-19

The Australian Border Force says the three asylum seekers who tested positive for COVID-19 were immediately placed in quarantine.

Refugees and asylum seekers in Melbourne's Park Hotel on Sunday said they are concerned about the response of Serco and the ABF.

Refugees and asylum seekers in Melbourne's Park Hotel on Sunday said they are concerned about the response of Serco and the ABF. Source: Refugee Action Collective

The Australian Border Force has confirmed three asylum seekers at Melbourne's Park Hotel have returned positive COVID-19 results.

An asylum seeker inside the Park Hotel, which is being used as an "alternative place of detention" by the ABF, says detainees are frustrated and scared.  

Mustafa Salah, 23, has spent the better part of eight years inside Australian detention facilities offshore and within its borders.

"We don't know what to do," Mr Salah told AAP.

"We are always together... we sit together, eat together, we really don't know what to do."

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) director of advocacy and campaigns Jana Favero told AAP it was a situation the centre had feared, and despite attempts by detainees to socially distance and remain safe, "it's impossible in the conditions they're in".

"They're scared and they've been scared for 18 months," Ms Favero said.

She said crowded conditions, hygiene issues, a lack of information, guards working multiple sites and low vaccination numbers were all factors driving the ASRC's "deep concerns" around an outbreak.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the ABF said COVID-19 protocols were being implemented to contain the outbreak.

"As soon as the detainees presented with symptoms they were immediately placed into quarantine," a spokesperson told SBS News.

"Standard departmental protocols are being followed in relation to a positive diagnosis including contact tracing, quarantining, testing and cleaning, in conjunction with the Victorian public health unit.

"All detainees continue to have ongoing access to the medical professionals located within facilities."

Mr Salah told AAP that he and many other detainees were yet to be vaccinated, however the ABF said vaccination has been offered to those detainees consenting since early August.

He said he had been tested three or four times in the two weeks after he was moved to the hotel from Sydney's Villawood detention centre, but that testing was not being carried out regularly.

Chris Breen from Refugee Action Collective Victoria said a lack of testing "has put everyone in Park Hotel at risk", and that it was "shocking" that it took until Sunday morning to confirm a positive result in one of the detainees who was swabbed on Friday.

He said positive cases in the Park Hotel were being moved to level one of the building to isolate, which he called a "recipe to spread the infection" in an air-conditioned hotel.

At the end of August, about 35 per cent of detainees had been partially vaccinated and 16 per cent fully vaccinated, at a time when 58.71 per cent of eligible Australians had received a first dose and 35.03 per cent were fully vaccinated.

With SBS News.


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Published 17 October 2021 at 5:42pm, updated 17 October 2021 at 6:53pm
Source: AAP - SBS