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Twenty-Second Refugee Tests Positive for COVID at Park Hotel

Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE 30/10/2021


Hundreds are expected to rally in Melbourne today (details below), as the COVID-19 outbreak among refugees at the Park hotel, in Melbourne, continues.

A thirty-nine year-old Sudanese refugee became the twenty-second refugee to be infected with COVID at the Park Hotel in Melbourne when he tested positive yesterday, Friday 29 October.

The Sudanese refugee who was swabbed on Wednesday 27 October was moved to level 1 of the hotel after returning the positive test.

Late on Thursday 28 October, 12 days after the first refugees tested positive at the hotel-prison, an air purifier was finally placed in each room in the Park Hotel. Two nurses are now rostered to work overnight at the hotel, so there are now nursing staff at the hotel twenty-four hours a day, and at weekends.

But the medical supervision at the hotel is still not adequate; there is no routine to systematically check the welfare of people who are locked in their room.

"The changes at the Park hotel are all too little and too late," said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, "COVID-positive refugees are still being housed in the same hotel as people who are COVID negative. and people who should be free are still being held prisoners at high risk of infection."

There are reports that two women who have recently been released from prison have also been “quarantined” in the Park hotel. It is not clear if the two women are already COVID positive, or were taken to the Park hotel because of COVID problems at MITA.

The BRP compound (Broadmeadows Residential Precinct), that would normally house female detainees being transferred from prison, has been locked down since 23 October after being exposed to a COVID-positive Serco guard. Since the lockdown, one female detainee in the BRP compound has also now tested positive for COVID on 26 October.


"The positive case at MITA is a very worrying development. Like the Park hotel, MITA is a high risk environment for COVID infection. More refugees in the BRP are now at risk," said Rintoul.

More failures of COVID protocols emerged at MITA, when, on 26 October, IHMS staff attempted to vaccinate one detainee who was in isolation in Bass2. It was only when the detainee questioned the vaccination attempt that the IHMS staff made inquiries about the correct protocols.

A rally calling for the evacuation and release of all those in the Park hotel outside the Park hotel will be held today (Saturday 30 October, 2pm – details below.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713, or Chris Breen (at the rally) 0403 013 183.


RALLY: Healthcare not detention - evacuate the refugees now!

2pm Sat Oct 30, Lincoln Square, 701 Swanston St, Carlton

  • Close the Park Hotel, close MITA - evacuate refugees now

  • Don't return hospitalised refugees to detention

  • Free all the refugees

Speakers include:

Joy - Bangladeshi refugee from inside the Park Hotel Political Prison via phone Hamed - Iranian refugee in MITA Detention Centre (now in COVID lockdown) - via phone Ged Kearney - federal Labor MP for Cooper Lidia Thorpe - federal Greens Senator Amanda Threlfall - Assistant Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council

This rally is supported by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

Call Chris Breen 0403 013 183 for more info


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