Covid-19: Just 983 people have self-isolated at 750-bedroom Citywest hotel
The facility has so far cost the State over €24.5m since the start of the Covid-19 crisis
Up to July 26th, the HSE said 983 people had been isolated at the Citywest hotel and convention centre, with healthcare workers “predominantly” the ones to isolate there. Photograph: Getty Images
Fewer than 1,000 people have been placed in self-isolation at the 750-bedroom Citywest hotel convention centre outside Dublin, which has so far cost the State over €24.5 million since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
The figure is revealed in a letter sent by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall, which detailed the use made so far of Citywest, which has room for hundreds of extra emergency beds.
Up to July 26th, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said 983 people had been isolated there, with 104 staying there on that date alone. So far healthcare workers have “predominantly” been the ones to isolate there, the letter states.
However, the figure is likely to have increased since that date as Citywest has been used for self-isolating meat plant workers who are unable to do so where they are living.
The letter notes that “consideration is being given to identifying alternate uses for the facility should occupancy remain low, as the contract cannot be terminated before October”.
By June, three months into the seven-month lease, Citywest had cost the State €9 million. However, Mr Donnelly wrote that “the balance of the funding will be required to meet contractual commitments to October”.
Under the contract the HSE must given three month’s notice before quitting the lease. Alternative “uses” for Citywest are now being sought “should occupancy remain low” since the contract cannot end before October.
When the lease was originally signed at the height of fears about Covid-19, the HSE planned to use Citywest as an emergency hospital if acute hospitals were overrun. However, capacity was never reached.
Commenting on the lease, Ms Shortall said “it is hard to understand why the Citywest hotel wasn’t used more extensively as an isolation facility, especially for people in high-risk settings such as direct provision”.
“The contract for the Citywest hotel and convention centre is very peculiar too. Why should such a short-term contract require a four-month notice period to end?”
So far €84 million has been spent up to July 3rd on testing and contact tracing, 37 per cent of the approved budget of €208 million. This includes €36.8 million for around 447,000 lab tests, and €36 million on capital set-up costs, lab testing equipment, reagent supplies and other equipment.
Contact tracing has cost €6 million, an €5.2 million has been spent on swabbing in community testing centres and by the national ambulance service.