The SNP chair of the Parliamentary group on immigration detention has called for all detainees to be temporarily released after a rise in Covid-19 cases in removal centres.

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on immigration detention, asked the Home Secretary to immediately release all detainees due to the ongoing pandemic.

It comes after a case of Covid-19 was confirmed at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) close to Gatwick Airport last week Thewliss said in a letter – the second case brought to the attention of the APPG following the first confirmed case at Yarl’s Wood IRC in March.However, a High Court case brought by charity Detention Action heard there may be at least two more cases.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: UK death toll passes 10,000 – with 50% mortality rate in hospitals

Thewliss called the newest case “entirely avoidable” and expressed her concern, writing to the Home Secretary: “The confirmation of a new coronavirus case at Brook House demonstrates the danger detainees are continuing to be put in. Now more than ever, protection must be prioritised over immigration targets. IRCs are high risk for clusters of Covid-19 with staff providing a conduit for infection to and from the community.

“The continued spread of the virus clearly highlights the very real risk of uncontrolled outbreaks at IRCs.”

The Ministry of Justice previously announced up to 4000 low-risk prisoners will be temporarily released from jail in an effort to try to control the spread of coronavirus. Welcoming that decision, Thewliss continued: “The release of prisoners, however, begs the question as to why immigration detainees, none of whom are serving a criminal sentence, are still being held.”

As of last Wednesday, 149 prisoners had tested positive for the virus, and at least 10 prisoners have died. Thewliss added: “I call on you to do all you can to avoid any such similar deaths in detention and urge you – once more – to arrange for the release of all immigration detainees with immediate effect.”

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.