IN these trying times, the vast majority of people are adhering to the advice of medical experts and exercising extreme caution in their daily activities, such as exercising or walking within a 2km radius of their homes, only venturing out for work or essential shopping or cocooning.
Many families have the comfort of being able to cook their own food, wash their own clothes and, if necessary, take some time out from the rest of the family by going into another room or into the back garden.
But what if you are living in shared accommodation with up to 200 other people in close proximity? How concerned would you be about a potential outbreak of coronavirus in that setting?
That scenario is a reality for hundreds of people at direct provision centres in Co Laois – the former Montague Hotel in Emo, the Hibernian Hotel in Abbeyleix, the old East End Hotel in Portarlington and the Commercial Inn in Rathdowney. The latter two are used for short-term stays.
‘The atmosphere in the centre is highly charged at the best of times, but now in this pandemic, people are terrified of an outbreak and almost living on the edge of their nerves’ – a mother of three who lives in direct provision
Some residents have lived in these facilities for ten years or more before a judgement has been made on their asylum status.
‘People are so fearful of catching the virus that they are practically holding up in their rooms for most of the day and only coming out for food or to do their laundry’
See this week’s Laois Nationalist for full story