Portugal to rehome asylum seekers to vacant tourist flats after Coronavirus outbreak at a Lisbon hostel
PORTUGAL will test 500 asylum seekers for the Coronavirus after an outbreak at an immigrant hostel last week prompted scrutiny of overcrowded conditions that could lead to contagion.
The country is currently housing 800 asylum seekers in hostels while they wait for their applications to be processed. A single case at one hostel in Lisbon last week prompted all 175 residents to be tested, revealing that 138 had contracted the virus.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Sunday it was planning to “take advantage of the reduced pressure on the housing market in the capital” to move some asylum seekers to apartments left empty because of the lack of tourists this summer.
The Council for Refugees (CPR), responsible for housing people while their applications are being processed, has capacity for just 150, and puts up the remaining applicants in hostels or social housing.
CPR head Monica Farinha told Reuters she was concerned that the conditions of the hostels, with several people to a room, meant there was a high risk of contagion.