By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter
A large number of asylum seekers were taken to a hotel in Hammersmith after a severe outbreak of coronavirus at a hostel in Birmingham, it has emerged.
A coach of 44 people, ordered by the Home Office, arrived in Hammersmith on August 31.
They were moved from the Stone Road Asylum Centre in Edgbaston following an outbreak at the site.
BBC News reported 56 of the centre’s staff and residents had tested positive for Covid-19, and that it would be closed until further notice.
The 44 people who arrived in Hammersmith were given coronavirus tests by Public Health England officials, and nine tested positive.
All 44 have since been transported again by the Home Office to another centre near Heathrow Airport.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The safety and wellbeing of asylum seekers and the local communities in which they live is of the utmost importance.
“Following an outbreak of coronavirus in initial asylum accommodation, a number of residents have been moved into temporary accommodation to enable them to self-isolate and practice social distancing.”
The Home Office would not confirm whether there were children among the 44 who were transported, and did not comment on why they were taken to Hammersmith.
The nine new positive cases contributed to a rising infection rate in Hammersmith and Fulham.
During the week of August 31 to September 4, the borough’s infection rate was 18.3 per 100,000 people, the second highest rate of any local authority in London.
A council spokesman said the Home Office did not inform them, or the NHS, of the arrival from Birmingham.
The spokesman said: “On Monday, August, 31, 44 people arrived in Hammersmith on a coach from Birmingham, as instructed and commissioned by the Home Office. They were decanted from a hotel in Birmingham.
“Neither the council, nor the NHS, were informed and we were given no details about them. When alerted, we tested the entire group and nine people tested positive for Covid-19.
“They have now been transferred to a hotel near Heathrow designated for Covid-19 positive cases.”
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