More Covid at MITA Detention Centre

Refugee Action Coalition MEDIA RELEASE 23/10/2021 MORE COVID AT MELBOURNE’S MITA DETENTION CENTRE Another Serco guard at Melbourne’s MITA detention has tested positive sparking another Covid scare inside the detention centre. Border Force officers began notifying people identified as close contacts in the Bass2 compound this afternoon, Saturday 23 October. Bass2 has been told the whole compound will be locked down for another two weeks. It is not known how many people and how many compounds have been exposed this time. The new Covid exposure comes just 15 days since Bass2 and Erskine compounds at MITA were locked down after both compounds were declared a Tier 1 site exposure. Coming at the same time as the Covid outbreak among refugees at the Park hotel in Melbourne, the exposure raises more questions regarding the competence of Border Force to maintain proper Covid protocols and a Covid-safe environment in detention centres. Just like in the hotel, there are vulnerable populations in the detention centres. Ivan, who was told this afternoon that he was a close contact of the Covid-positive guard, suffers from diabetes and sleep apnoea that requires a machine for breathing at night. The MITA exposure will no doubt mean more staff shortages at the detention that is already struggling as Serco and Border Force staff are required to isolate. There are widespread complaints about food shortages in MITA, with some detainees complaining about being hungry. Only two small meals are being provided to people locked down in the Dargo compound that is used for internal quarantining purposes. The shortages of cereal, bread, and milk in Bass2 has already raised tensions among people being held in the locked down compound. An urgent inquiry is needed into Serco’s infection management procedures. People in detention are not safe. Prisons are now routinely using rapid antigen screening tests to identify potential Covid cases among prison staff. “The Covid outbreaks in detention centres is starting to look like carelessness," said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, ”The outbreaks are the inevitable result of a government and policies that are indifferent to the lives of refugees and others being held in immigration detention." For more information , contact Ian Rintoul , 0417 275 713