Direct Provision and Emergency Accommodation Centres have been directed by the Department of Justice to generate dedicated self-isolation rooms in response to Covid-19.

It is one of the measures in the Department's contingency plans for centres, outlined this evening. 

The Department is consulting the HSE about potential prevention and cocoon measures for the most medically socially vulnerable people in Direct Provision and Emergency accommodation. 

A dedicated off-site self-isolation unit for centre residents who may need such a facility will be piloted. 

Yesterday, the Department of Justice said that together with the HSE it will "pilot an off-site self-isolation facility" for asylum seekers suspected of having the coronavirus, who are living in direct provision or emergency accommodation centres.

"Intensive work is ongoing to put this facility in place," according to the Department. 

To support Social Distancing in centres, visitors are not allowed and where centres do not have independent cooking facilities, the Department is implementing staggered meal times or providing for takeaway facilities.

It is also putting in place a national telephone service to provide updated public health advice to centre management and residents. 

Meanwhile, Lucky Kombole of MASI, Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland has told RTÉ's Drivetime that people in centres are anxious about living in such cramped conditions during this coronavirus pandemic. 

"There is a lot of anxiety, people don't know what to do, how can people save themselves in that situation. I know a mother who is expecting a baby. She has two with her.  Her living conditions are scary to her, everyone is scared."

Also speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime John Lannon, Director of Doras, an advocacy group for those in Direct Provision, said "urgent action is required".

He said his organisation stands ready to help the HSE and the Department of Justice to move people to alternative facilities, "like schools that aren't being used", he said.

Mr Lannon said there are vulnerable people in centres nationwide, many of whom are over 60-years-old, and who have long-term medical conditions.