Covid outbreak at Folkestone migrant camp

Asylum seekers at Napier Barracks, Folkestone, have tested positive for coronavirus, leading to a lockdown of the camp.

There are an estimated 400 people living in the camp on the Kent coast, with suggestions that more than 100 migrants could have contracted the virus. Scores of migrants in the camp have refused to take coronavirus tests.

The Home Office set up the temporary migrant camp to deal with the high volume of people making the illegal journey across the Channel.

An official at Napier Barracks was recorded saying: “This is one big house…so they can roam around their house…we can’t stop them.

“We advised them they have to stay in their rooms for isolation, for their own health and everyone else’s health. If they still choose to come out that’s up to them.”

This is not the first time there has been a Covid outbreak at the camp, with an asylum seeker in the camp testing positive for the virus in October.

Minister for immigration compliance, Chris Philp, said: “It is incredibly disappointing that prior to this a number of individuals refused tests and have been either refusing to self-isolate or follow social distancing rules, despite repeated requests to do so and these being national guidelines to protect the NHS and save lives.

“These individuals could face enforcement action and are not only risking their own health but the health of staff looking after them and the communities who are accommodating them.”

Nigel Farage has highlighted the issue of migrants blatantly flouting Covid regulations. Protests have taken place over the conditions at a former military training camp in Penally, Pembrokeshire, where up to 250 migrants are living.

Defending the Penally camp, which has had human rights lawyers raging, Philp said: “We provide asylum seekers in Penally with safe, Covid-compliant and weather-proof accommodation along with free, nutritious meals, all paid for by the taxpayer.

“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.”

MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins, who famously used his position as chair of the Commons Digital Committee to coordinate a smear campaign against Brexit has called for the Napier Barracks to be closed as soon as possible.

But where will they go?