28 rescued asylum seekers test COVID-19 positive off Italy

Nick Jaussi / Sea-Watch

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

28 asylum seekers who were rescued by German humanitarian NGO Sea Watch have tested positive for coronavirus. The asylum seekers are on board Moby Zazà which is off the Sicilian port of Empedocle. They are among a group of 211 migrants who were rescued by Sea-Watch last week.

In April, Italy banned humanitarian ships from docking until 31 July due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. It now transfers rescued migrants onto ships which must wait off the coast.

After saving more than 200 migrants, Sea Watch sailed towards the port of Empedocle. The migrants were then transferred to Moby Zazà where 13% of the asylum seekers tested positive for coronavirus.

Sea-Watch said in a statement it had informed authorities of a suspicious case before disembarking the migrants. The person was later found positive after being hospitalised in the city of Caltanissetta.

Sicily’s regional leader Nello Musumeci said that dozens of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean have tested positive for coronavirus while held in a quarantine ship off the southern Italian coast.

Writing on Facebook, Musumeci said: “In April we asked the central government to place the migrants under quarantine to prevent infections. Those who accused us of racism will now realise that we were right.”