British Home Office removes migrants from ship over Legionella scare

British Home Office removes migrants from ship over Legionella scare

The Bibby Stockholm, an accommodation vessel after its arrival in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain, on May 9. The British government ordered it evacuated on Friday. File Photo by Jon Rowley/EPA-EFE

Aug. 11 (UPI) — British officials on Friday removed asylum seekers from the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge after traces of Legionella were found in the onboard water system.

The Home Office said all of the migrants currently on the ship, moored at Portland Port were, being moved while assessments are being made about where the disease came from.

“As a precautionary measure, all 39 asylum seekers who arrived on the vessel this week are being disembarked while further assessments are undertaken,” the Home Office said. “No individuals onboard have presented with symptoms of legionnaires’ [disease], and asylum seekers are being provided with appropriate advice and support.”

Officials said while Legionella has shown up in the vessel’s water, none of the migrants have shown symptoms, and there was “no direct risk indication” for the rest of Portland.

Legionella can cause legionnaire’s disease and other lung infections if a person breathes in small droplets of water in air containing the bacteria.

Critics of putting the refugees on the vessel blamed the British government for the situation.

“The presence of life-threatening bacteria onboard the Bibby Stockholm is just another shocking revelation that we’ve seen unfold over the past few weeks,” a spokesperson for the charity Freedom From Torture said.

“This government’s punitive policies and deliberate neglect of the asylum system is not just cruel, it’s dangerous.”

The asylum seekers were moved onto the vessel Monday amid reports that serious safety issues had been flagged up and that the barge had yet to receive a clean bill of health from the fire department.

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