LONDON, Aug 11 (Reuters) – Britain removed a group of asylum seekers from a boat just days after they were brought there because of legionella bacteria found in the water, in a show of its efforts to introduce a tough new immigration policy. It was a matter of embarrassment for the government.
As part of a publicized strategy to discourage people from arriving in the country on small boats, London earlier this week began transferring asylum seekers to Bibby Stockholm, anchored near Dorset on the south coast There is a ship.
The policy was controversial before it went live. Ministers said they wanted to reduce the cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels, while human rights advocates compared the barge to a prison ship, saying its use was inhumane.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Environmental samples from the Bibby Stockholm barge’s water system have shown levels of Legionella bacteria, which require further investigation.” “As a precautionary measure, the 39 asylum seekers who arrived on the ship this week are being disembarked while further assessments are carried out.”
The huge three-storey barge can accommodate around 500 people in more than 200 rooms, with more people expected to be moved in the coming weeks.
Bacteria found in water supplies can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a lung infection described by the UK health service as rare but “very serious”.
The government said no one on board had shown symptoms of illness and was working closely with the UK Health Protection Agency (UKHSA) and following their advice.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government has spent the week making announcements about its efforts to reduce the number of asylum seekers, hoping to win voters’ support at a time when the ruling Conservative Party has been lagging behind over the past few years.