Rhein-Sieg District · A staff shortage seems to emerge in the central accommodation facility for refugees. According to the public health department, the facility can not be maintained without the employees who are – as contact persons – currently sent to quarantine.
The Central Accommodation Facility (ZUE) for refugees in Sankt Augustin appears to be experiencing a staff shortage. According to its own statements, the district health office has received oral requests to grant exemptions to ZUE staff so that they can continue working despite the Corona cases, although they are considered to be close contact persons (CP1). The county council’s faction of Die Linke had criticised these plans and mentioned a number of 25 affected employees.
In the telephone press conference of the Rhein-Sieg district on the corona pandemic on Wednesday, district health department head Rainer Meilicke did not go into detail about the staff situation in the CUE, where 152 residents and 13 employees are infected with the novel corona virus. According to GA information, however, the health office drew attention to the "relevant staff shortage", which had been reported to them. The operation could not be maintained without the employees currently sent to quarantine as contact persons. The special regulations for staff in the critical infrastructure are applicable for five of the 25 employees mentioned because they have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2. Two other employees are now showing symptoms of disease. They are therefore suspected cases and also not allowed to work.
The internal letter shows that the district health office clearly points out the necessary hygiene and protection measures in the accommodation. It also shows, however, that the situation as a whole is unclear, partly because not all 489 refugees registered in the national shelter actually live there. For example, the district health office points out that the further management and possible testing of the residents who have moved to Schleiden and Bonn, so are thus no longer within the jurisdiction of the Rhein-Sieg district, proves difficult. The operator of the accommodation would have to arrange further measures.
The safety measures at the ZUE Sankt Augustin are to be reinforced, according to information in the district’s press conference. The goal is to ensure that the quarantine is observed. Unfortunately, communication with the residents is very difficult, said the head of the health department, Meilicke. For this reason, contact tracing is now in the hands of a language service.
Meanwhile, the voices are getting louder calling for decentralised accommodation of the refugees. "It is simply not justifiable to accommodate so many people in such a small space in this pandemic period. I understand that they are afraid and I sympathise with them," said Superintendent Almut van Niekerk. The theologian is the head of the Protestant Church District An Sieg und Rhein and its Diakonie. "What annoys me most, however, is that the so-called social media are creating a mood against the refugees. And yet, they are the ones affected", says the Superintendent. In the medium term, she said, the system of centralised accommodation should be changed.
The FDP Sankt Augustin had already demanded a reduction in the number of collective accommodations on Tuesday. The left wing in NRW and in the district also demands "decentralised accommodation instead of mass accommodation". At state level, Pro Asyl and the NRW Refugee Council expressed similar sentiments.
Meanwhile, a study by the University of Bielefeld has confirmed that the risk of infection in a refugee accommodation is on average about as high as on a cruise ship. Kayvan Bozorgmehr, the head of the study team, told the German Press Agency that the virus could spread rapidly once it had entered the accommodation through residents or personnel. "It is absolutely necessary to ensure that the accommodation of the refugees conforms to corona protection standards", Bozorgmehr said. From an infection protection point of view, this means: single rooms and no further common use of kitchen, shower and toilet by several families at the same time.
Honnef Youth Hostel becomes refugee accommodation
The Cologne district government announced on Tuesday that it will rent accommodation for ZUE residents who are not infected. It is not yet clear where this accommodation (is) will be. According to the district government, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has rented the Bad Honnef youth hostel to accommodate refugees. However, residents of the ZUE Sankt Augustin will not move there. The youth hostel is to accommodate mainly families and people from risk groups from the end of May.
With the exception of the situation in Sankt Augustin, District Administrator Sebastian Schuster described the corona situation in the district on Wednesday as manageable and moderate. The fact that it has been possible to keep the number of new infections so low is mainly due to the insight and discipline of the people, he emphasised. The district health office has already started a major project: Preventive tests have begun on residents and staff of nursing homes and on the staff of care services. By the end of next week, a total of 10,000 people will be tested for the corona virus, Meilicke said.
(Original text: Bettina Köhl and Andrea Ziech / Translation: Mareike Graepel)