Written evidence submitted by UK Border Force (COR006)



  1. At the Home Affairs Select Committee evidence session on 18 March 2020, we committed to write on a number of points. Please find our replies below.


Confirming the suspected cases of Coronavirus within the two IE IRCs (Colnbrook and Harmondsworth) that are on lockdown


  1. Who did the assessment?


The assessment was carried out locally by healthcare staff. Each individual in isolation was seen either by a nurse and/or a GP initially. In the event that they were not seen by a GP in the first instance the nurse discussed their assessment with the GP in order to agree a management plan.


  1. What level of assessment was carried out?


Initially, based on symptoms presented, a temperature check was conducted. The patient’s medical history, including any underlying health conditions, previous travel and countries of transit was factored into the assessment. A set of clinical observations was taken on a continual basis.


  1. Who had the final sign off of it being Flu rather than a COVID case?


This was signed off by a healthcare professional as a likely diagnosis only. PHE make a recommendation to place a site into quarantine but agreed on the likelihood of known illnesses on site being flu, rather than Coronavirus. PHE guidelines for managing symptomatic individuals are being followed and we treat all cases as though it’s a COVID outbreak, until we know otherwise. We follow PHE guidelines on quarantine and isolations times.


Process of segregation within an IRC given that tests are not being carried out


  1. All detainees displaying ‘flu-like’ symptoms are isolated for a period of seven days in line with PHE guidance.  Isolation for these purposes will usually be in separate wings at the site.


Testing kits throughout the entire detention estate


  1. Testing does not necessarily take place within IRCs – it is on a case by case basis. NHS England are reviewing whether places of detention should be given special consideration for swab testing.


Telephone number for contact centre helpline that has been set up to support individuals whose permissions to stay in the UK may have expired, are due to expire, or may be experiencing difficulties in leaving the UK


  1. We would encourage members of the Committee to use the following number for those people who are experiencing these issues - 0800 38 999 03.


Trends of people arriving into the UK


  1. We have included an annex (COR007) to this letter that shows the trends we are seeing arriving at the border.



March 2020