COVID-19 testing will be rolled out across direct provision centres from today.
The measure has been announced by the Department of Justice, and the Health Service Executive.
A joint statement from the two agencies said: "The Department of Justice and Equality and the HSE can confirm that, in line with the recommendations of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), a comprehensive programme of COVID-19 testing is starting across all accommodation centres housing asylum seekers and refugees in the State. This covers residents and staff in accommodation centres (both permanent and temporary) and in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROCs)."
The statement continued: "Congregated settings, like accommodation centres, pose additional challenges during the pandemic to prevent and control the spread of the virus. That is why the Department of Justice and Equality and the HSE have worked closely together since the outset of the pandemic to put in place a range of measures for the safety and protection of all residents and staff, including opening additional temporary accommodation to facilitate physical and social distancing in centres."
It added: "The comprehensive testing programme is an additional public health measure recommended by NPHET to safeguard residents and staff in Direct Provision Centres. It will help us to identify and isolate cases quickly and to assess the effectiveness of the public health measures put in place at Direct Provision Centres since March 2020.
This will also help us to decide if extra supports are needed."
The agencies stressed that a refusal to partake in the testing or a positive result will not affect a person’s status or application for international protection in any way.
However, the statement urged all residents and staff to participate to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe from coronavirus.
Children aged under 5 years and people who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 will not be tested.