Melbourne Detention Centre Locked Down After Serco Officer Tests Positive for Covid

Refugee Action Coalition MEDIA RELEASE 08/10/2021 MELBOURNE DETENTION CENTRE LOCKED DOWN AFTER SERCO OFFICER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID The whole of Bass 2 compound of Melbourne detention centre (MITA) has been locked down this afternoon, Friday 8 October. People detained in Bass 2 were told they were all deemed to be close contacts of a Serco officer (understood to be an activities officer) who has tested positive for Covid, and have been told that they will be tested for Covid tonight or tomorrow. People in Bass 2 may have been exposed for as long as four days. At least one other compound, Erskine, is also understood to be affected. Today’s Covid exposure comes just six days after another MITA Serco worker tested positive potentially exposing the whole detention centre, resulting in immigration detainees being offered Covid tests for the first time since the pandemic started. There have been numerous other issues regarding the lack of Covid protocols at MITA. Guards who escort detainees out of the detention centre are required to isolate on their return, but guards are not. Social distancing is not able to be adhered to inside the detention centre, and kitchen staff in Bass 2 are known not to wear masks when serving food. “The government has been warned over and over again about the high risk of Covid transmission in detention centres. Many of the people in immigration detention have medical conditions making them especially vulnerable. The Human Rights Commission recommended that those with high medical risk be released from immigration detention, but the government has done nothing,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “There have been numerous Covid protocol failures. The government has been playing with the lives of people in immigration detention. They should have been released. “Vaccination rates are not high because vaccine appointments are handled by detention medical provider IHMS that is widely distrusted because of detainees experience and its collaboration with Border Force.” For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713


Cover photo credit: Al Jazeera