A man who arrived in the UK on a small boat a week ago and was being treated at Manston has died, the Home Office announced on Saturday. He fell ill while at the Kent detention site and was taken to hospital, but later died.
It is understood he arrived on November 12 and fell ill on Friday evening.
“We can confirm that one person staying at Manston died this morning [Saturday] in hospital after falling ill,” a Home Office spokesman said.
“We wish to express our deepest condolences to all those affected. Until a post-mortem examination takes place we cannot comment in detail, but there is no evidence at this stage to suggest this tragic death was caused by an infectious disease.
“We take the safety and well-being of the people in our care very seriously and provide 24/7 healthcare facilities with qualified medical staff in Manston.”
The matter was referred to the coroner and the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
A spokesperson for the IOPC Fund has confirmed that it received a recommendation from the Home Office after the man’s death and will now assess it to determine if further action is needed.
The Home Office said the man did not suffer from any infectious disease. The Guardian has received unconfirmed reports that he has contracted sepsis.
Home Office sources said they were trying to get in touch with the man’s next of kin.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said it would take a ‘full investigation’. “Sincere condolences to the family and friends of the man who passed away after staying at Manston,” she tweeted. “Of course there will have to be a full investigation into this tragic case.”
Inquest, the charity that provides expertise on state-linked deaths, has called for an independent investigation. Deborah Coles, its manager, said: ‘It feels like it’s only a matter of time before a death like this happens at this completely closed facility.
“Notwithstanding concerns about the conditions and the impact on the mental and physical health of those staying there, an independent investigation is needed to hold the various agencies involved to account. Maybe this death will shock people into doing something about the Manston facility.
It is believed to be the first death of someone treated at Manston.
The facility provides basic temporary accommodation to small boat arrivals while they are processed and can accommodate 1,000 people, with a maximum of 1,600, but was described in October as “catastrophically overcrowded”. It is believed that in recent days the numbers on the Manston site have fallen to 650.
Manston has been hit by a series of scandals, including reports of infectious diseases like diphtheria, guards selling drugs to asylum seekers and some newcomers stranded in central London. Legal challenges are pending regarding the terms on the site.
Clare Moseley, founder of the charity Care4Calais, which works with asylum seekers in the UK and northern France, said: “Our condolences go out to this man’s family and friends.”
She added that the charity ‘continues to have concerns about the centre’s health facilities’.