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Added: March 26, 2021
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has sounded alarm over new entrants from overseas into the emergency accommodation system, including from Brazil, claiming it created “a real risk” of spreading Covid-19 among the city’s homeless population.
In its January report, the DRHE said from mid-December to the end of January, 25 people had sought to access the emergency accommodation system from overseas, in addition to 85 people from other parts of Ireland.
Referring to those who, in the period covered by the report, presented looking for emergency accommodation, the DRHE said: “13 came from Wexford, 9 from Limerick, 7 each from Kildare, Cork and Galway, 6 from Laois, 5 each from Mayo, Westmeath, Kilkenny and Monaghan, 4 from Meath, 3 each from Louth and Wicklow and 2 each from, Cavan, Waterford and Longford.
25 came from outside the country: UK/Northern Ireland, Australia, USA, Nigeria, Mauritius, Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Romania, Malta and Brazil.
“Most of this has occurred during a period of stringent level 5 travel restrictions and created a real risk of the pandemic spreading throughout the entire emergency accommodation system in the city. The DRHE has had to manage this situation very carefully.”
Mauritius and Brazil are two of the countries currently listed as “high risk” and on the 33-strong list of countries that will come under the new mandatory quarantine regime which begins on Friday.
The multi-agency approach introduced since the start of the pandemic has been successful at reducing the spread of Covid-19 in emergency accommodation.
According to the report, there have been three Covid-related deaths among those in emergency accommodation, all of whom were resident in long-term supported accommodation.
“At the end of January, there were 116 confirmed (cumulative) cases within Dublin Homeless Services,” DRHE said.
“This increased from December when there were 88 confirmed cases, but we anticipated this increase and there was a comprehensive Covid-19 response in place by the DRHE and the HSE to respond.
Due to the increase in cases and symptomatic presentations, we opened an additional facility to accommodate close contacts identified in homeless services.”
The report also noted a fall in excess bed capacity in recent weeks ” due to the constant demand and on occasion the overall capacity can be further reduced at short notice due to Covid-19 outbreaks”.
The report also noted that at the end of January there were 175 families residing in hotels in the capital – the lowest number of families in hotels since September 2014.