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DOZENS of women have been released from Yarl’s Wood detention centre after a detainee was diagnosed with Covid-19 over the weekend, it was reported today.
The Home Office confirmed that a detainee had tested positive for the virus on Sunday, a day after women were ordered not to leave their rooms as a precaution.
Campaigners and detainees told the Morning Star that dozens have been released over the past few days.
One detainee, who preferred not to be named, said that there were about 39 women left at the notorious Bedfordshire immigration removal centre, which has a total capacity of 400.
Migrant solidarity group Movement for Justice welcomed the move but stressed that all remaining detainees must also be freed.
Campaigner Antonia Bright said: “My concern is that we’ve already seen how healthcare, or lack of care, operates in detention centres.
“With coronavirus we have no confidence that they can handle this level of need. They need to shut those centres down.”
Speaking by phone from Yarl’s Wood, one detainee said she didn’t understand why she had been left behind.
“There were tears of joy and tears of sadness when people were being released because we were thinking to ourselves: ‘How unfortunate, everyone is going except us’,” she said.
Remaining detainees are now permitted to leave their rooms and access the canteen and internet room, which had been locked until this morning.
The woman said that detainees were not told why the quarantine had been lifted and that they were still concerned about catching the virus.
“We are still worried because the officers are going home and coming back, and the cleaners as well.
“If they could communicate with us, we would appreciate it, because otherwise it makes people panic.”
Last week, detainees spoke out against the lack of protective measures put in place at Yarl’s Wood, where initially only guards were given masks.
Detainees were eventually given one mask and a pair of gloves on Saturday, but without guidance on how to use them.
The Home Office would not confirm whether detainees had been released in response to the global pandemic, saying there were a “variety of reasons” why an individual could be released from detention.
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