02/22/2021 / By Divina Ramirez
Hundreds of migrants seeking asylum in the United Kingdom received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine during a “mass vaccination” operation on Thursday, Feb. 11.
Some 320 migrants are currently staying at the four-star Crowne Plaza hotel near Heathrow Airport in London courtesy of the U.K. government while they await a decision on their asylum claims.
Only 80 of those who received a shot of the vaccine were over 70 years old, marking them a high priority as per government guidelines. The remaining 240 migrants were young and healthy, leading critics to believe that the local general practitioners who performed the vaccinations did so without informing health authorities.
Among those who were vaccinated was a young asylum seeker from Sudan named Abdul. He said he was so far pleased with his new life in the U.K. Showing the site of his injection, Abdul shared with the Daily Mail that he was vaccinated so he wouldn’t catch the virus. “There are 400 migrants living here and we nearly all had it,” he added. “No one I know refused [the vaccine.]”
Abdul also said that none of them had to pay for the vaccine. They were simply told to queue up at the hotel for a shot. Two other migrants from Sudan aged 27 and 35 years said they were happy to have received the vaccine regardless of their age.
Unfortunately, asylum seekers staying at the Crowne Plaza may be completely unaware that they received their shots ahead of vulnerable groups. In a statement to the Daily Mail, one government spokesman said it was “totally unacceptable” for the healthy young migrants to be receiving vaccines contrary to guidelines.
The spokesman said the National Health Service (NHS) was taking action to ensure such an operation will not happen again. According to the NHS, it will prioritize giving the vaccine to people aged 65 years and over, people who are at a high risk of infection, people who work in care homes and healthcare workers.
The order in which people will be given the vaccine is based on advice from the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Peter Bone, the Tory Member of Parliament for Wellingborough, said the government has been clear on giving the coronavirus vaccine to those four priority groups first. “My constituents will find it amazing if we are vaccinating asylum seekers before vulnerable people at greatest risk.”
The Crowne Plaza is just one of many hotels in the U.K. housing migrants who came to the U.K. illegally either by lorry from Europe or by boat from the northern coast of Africa. (Related: Europeans no longer welcome in Germany due to coronavirus; only MIGRANTS allowed.)
Before the U.K. government designated the Crowne Plaza for migrant accommodation, it was a popular haunt of business people coming and going through London’s premier airport. During peak seasons, its rooms go up to £100 a night.
Being a four-star hotel, many of the asylum seekers staying at the Crowne Plaza have had no complaints. They report that the bedrooms are wonderful and that the complimentary English breakfast was very good.
One Sudanese man said he had a rough life in Calais, France until he decided to come to the U.K. by boat. The man said he was relieved when he was given a room at the hotel to stay in. Meanwhile, a woman from Eritrea said she had been trying to get into the country for seven years. She said she was grateful for the hospitality.
The migrants staying at the Crowne Plaza, like the woman from Eritrea, can leave the hotel as they wish. They can even wander into nearby West Drayton and visit the food shops open.
This lenient, all-expense-paid stay at one of the country’s finest hotels is a far cry from what is awaiting British travelers flying into Heathrow Airport and four other airports from 33 countries included on the government’s red list.
New arrivals will need to quarantine for 10 days at the three-star Ibis Styles London Heathrow East. They will be confined to their rooms and afforded short breaks outside for exercise or fresh air under the supervision of security guards. Their entire stay costs £1,750 per head, a rate set by the government.
Throughout their stay, new arrivals will receive airline-style food left outside their bedroom doors. They need to change their own sheets and towels as well to prevent possible transmission. Their stay does not come with complimentary vaccines either.
Recent guests said their rooms were “nice and quiet” while others said their beds were “comfy.” But one guest who recently stayed at the hotel said the rooms were cold and that the heater did not work. The guest, who wrote of the experience on a travel website, also said a complaint to the hotel staff resulted in nothing.
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