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Asylum seekers at Napier Barracks in Folkestone test positive for Covid-19

A number of asylum seekers living in army barracks are having to self isolate after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Home Office says 'a small number' of people at Napier Barracks in Folkestone have contracted the virus and are now following 'medical advice closely'.

Napier Barracks in Folkestone is being used to house asylum seekers
Napier Barracks in Folkestone is being used to house asylum seekers

Additional staff are onsite to 'support' the asylum seekers, the Home Office said.

It added that guests 'have been reminded of their obligations follow Covid-19 restrictions, including not leaving the site and advised they will be subject to police action in line with the UK population'.

Minister for Immigration Compliance, Chris Philp said: "We are aware that a small number of individuals have tested positive for coronavirus in Napier Barracks.

"We are working closely with our providers, and with Public Health England, to ensure that all individuals who have to self-isolate can do so and are following all medical advice closely.

"We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and asylum seekers can contact the 24/7 helpline run by Migrant Help if they have any issues."

There have been protests at the barracks. Picture: Care4Calais
There have been protests at the barracks. Picture: Care4Calais

This is not the first time coronavirus has broken out at the centre; an asylum seeker tested positive in October.

There are currently around 400 adult men staying at the military camp after the Home Office turned it into a temporary facility for people seeking asylum in the UK.

It comes as the government body was struggling to house everyone due to the rise in people coming to the country, many in small boats having crossed the English Channel.

Napier Barracks, owned by the Ministry of Defence, was transformed into the temporary site in September.

Since then, demonstrations have taken place from the service users themselves over the living conditions, and from members of far right groups who protest to the arrangement.

Some of the asylum seekers have been sleeping outside as they say the barracks are cramped and offer little privacy. Others are on hunger strike.

MP for the area, Damian Collins, has called for the centre to be closed as quickly as possible.

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