COVID-19 outbreak at Melbourne detention hotel sees 17 asylum seekers test positive, one admitted to hospital



At least 17 asylum seekers detained in a Melbourne facility have tested positive to COVID-19, with one person being treated in hospital.Key points:The Park Hotel in Melbourne is being used as an alternative detention facility to house asylum seekersAn asylum seeker who contracted COVID-19 there said he did not feel safeAustralian Border Force says 55 per cent of people in immigration detention have been fully vaccinatedThe growing outbreak has led to safety concerns from refugee advocates, who say poor ventilation in the facility is leading to more infections.Australian Border Force (ABF) said those who were unwell were being “closely monitored” by detention health staff, and have been provided appropriate medical care for their symptoms.Azizi Zahir Azizi, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, said he recently contracted COVID-19 while being held at Melbourne’s Park Hotel, which is being used as an “alternative detention facility” by the ABF.He said he had been suffering from chest pain, a sore throat and headaches, but had only been given two Panadol to ease the symptoms.”I’m feeling very bad,” he said. “All refugees feel scared.” Azizi Zahir Azizi said the window to his room is sealed, and he cannot breathe fresh air while he is recovering.(Supplied)Mr Azizi said that he hadn’t been able to open his windows to get fresh air and said the virus was running “round, round, round” the hotel.”It’s not safe in here,” he said.Mr Azizi said he was offered the vaccine, but refused to take it, saying he would only agree to the vaccination once he was out of detention.ABF said that all people in immigration detention have been offered the vaccine, and 62 per cent had received their first dose of the vaccine while 55 per cent were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.Chris Breen, a spokesperson from the Refugee Action Collective, said the asylum seekers needed to be relocated to safer accommodation so that the outbreak did not spread.He said the hotel was not adequately set up as a quarantine facility, and that he expected infection numbers to increase if something was not done.”Our concern is that the remainder [of asylum seekers] aren’t safe in the Park Hotel,” Mr Breen said.”We are calling for the hotel to be evacuated immediately.”There are currently more than 23,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, with 1,748 cases to 8pm Friday reported on Saturday.



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