Background: The containment of the COVID-19 pandemic in collective accommodation centres is crucial to maintain the physical and mental health of refugees. It is unclear what measures have been taken by authorities in this setting to reduce the risk of infection, minimise stressors for refugees during the pandemic and communicate containment measures. Objectives: Assessment of measures that have been taken to prevent and contain SARS-CoV‑2 in collective accommodation for refugees and identification of support required by authorities. Methods: Qualitative interview study with 48 representatives responsible for the reception and accommodation of refugees. Individual interviews were transcribed verbatim and evaluated using framework analysis. Results: We found substantial heterogeneity of measures taken to prevent infection, inform refugees, maintain social and health services, test for SARS-CoV‑2 and quarantine positive cases. Effective intersectoral cooperation proved to be particularly important for coordination and implementation of measures. Need for support was expressed with regard to the improvement of infrastructure, opportunities to work with language interpreters and stronger involvement of local health experts. Conclusion: Amidst multiple actors and the complexity of structures and processes, the admission authorities have been taking on essential responsibilities related to infection control on an ad hoc basis, without being sufficiently positioned to do so. In order to further contain the pandemic, a strengthening of centralised, setting-specific recommendations and information as well as their translation through the pro-active involvement of the public health authorities at the local level are essential.

DOI: 10.1007/s00103-021-03284-2
ISSN: 1436-9990