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Migrants to return to barge after Legionella outbreak


Asylum seekers have been told they can return to the Bibby Stockholm barge, weeks after Legionella bacteria was found in the water system.

The Home Office confirmed the migrants would be rehomed on the barge “following the vessel completing all necessary tests”.

Back in August, 39 men were moved to the vessel which can house 506.

Migrants were told: “you will be required to move to alternative accommodation, and specifically, the Bibby Stockholm barge,” in a letter seen by the BBC.

It added that “this accommodation is offered on a no-choice basis”.

The Home Office said migrants will be required to “sign in and out of the sire when you leave and return” so that they can “assure your safety”.

Despite the rules, the Home Office added that the Bibby Stockholm was “not a detention accommodation”.

The letter went on to explain that migrants may be required to share a room and said there would be a nurse on board, English classes, recreational space and activities run by volunteers.

Asylum seekers were removed from the barge back in August after just four days of being on the boat.

Legionella bacteria, which caused the exodus, has been known to cause a serious lung infection (Legionnaire’s disease) although no migrants on board reported symptoms.

Following their departure, the 39 men were placed in alternative accommodation.

A Home Office spokesperson said at the time: “The health and welfare of individuals on the vessel is our utmost priority.

“Environmental samples from the water system on the Bibby Stockholm have shown levels of legionella bacteria which require further investigation.

“Following these results, the Home Office has been working closely with UKHSA and following its advice in line with long established public health processes, and ensuring all protocol from Dorset Council’s Environmental Health team and Dorset NHS is adhered to.

“As a precautionary measure, all 39 asylum seekers who arrived on the vessel this week are being disembarked while further assessments are undertaken.

“No individuals on board have presented with symptoms of Legionnaires’, and asylum seekers are being provided with appropriate advice and support.

“The samples taken relate only to the water system on the vessel itself and therefore carry no direct risk indication for the wider community of Portland nor do they relate to fresh water entering the vessel.

“Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person.”