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Coronavirus outbreak at emergency refugee centre, as more provinces find beds

The temporary centre in Goes, where there is an outbreak of coronavirus. Photo: Jonas Roosens ANP

At least 49 out of 320 residents at an emergency refugee centre in a sports hall in Goes have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

The asylum seekers were tested for the virus on arrival and have picked up Covid during their time in Zeeland, local officials say.

Everyone living in the centre has now been placed in quarantine and residents are no longer allowed to leave the grounds. They must also wear a face mask while indoors and keep 1.5 metres distance from others.

Those diagnosed with the virus have been placed in a separate part of the sports hall and everyone will be tested again on Friday.

The local health board decided to run tests on everyone at the centre this weekend after a number of asylum seekers developed coronavirus symptoms. The COA refugee settlement agency says it does not know how many of the residents have been vaccinated against coronavirus because ‘this is not information we are allowed to keep’.

Extra beds

Meanwhile, five provinces have now come forward with plans to provide several hundred extra beds for refugees because the regular centres are full.

Ministers urged the provinces to meet their obligations after the Ter Apel refugee centre, where new arrivals are registered, said hundreds of people had been sleeping on chairs and camp beds because there was no alternative.

Zeeland is putting up 100 refugees at an event centre in Middelburg, while Overijssel, Flevoland and Utrecht will provide beds in empty hotels and other emergency accommodation.

Junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol is meeting justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus and home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren later on Monday to discuss the crisis.

Afghanistan

Last month, 3,962 people applied for asylum in the Netherlands, including 1,199 from Afghanistan, of whom 1,104 were brought out of the country in the evacuation. The next biggest group – 1,133 – was people from Syria.

COA has capacity to accommodate almost 32,000 refugees across 74 locations. However, nearly 11,000 places are being taken up by people who have been granted refugee status but cannot be rehoused because of the current housing crisis.

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