The Bibby Stockholm is one of the new forms of asylum seeker accommodations the government are using to cut the costs of hotels, now ministers are facing questions about when tests were carried out, who knew what  and when, after asylum seekers are removed from the barge in Dorset after the vessel’s water system was found to contain Legionella bacteria. It is unclear where they have been moved to, but the Home Office has confirmed all 39 migrants on board disembarked on Friday 11th August as a ‘precautionary measure’.

Bibby Stockhold BargeLegionella bacteria commonly found in water, can cause a serious type of lung infection known as Legionnaires’ disease, outbreaks occur from purpose-built water systems where temperatures are warm enough to encourage growth of the bacteria.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick is understood to be chairing meetings about the situation and has said that none of those on the barge have shown signs of having the disease and are all being provided with “appropriate advice and support”.

Sky News stated that it’s understood that routine testing of the water supply was carried out on Tuesday 25th July, but it took almost 2 weeks for results to come back, this being the same day asylum seekers began to board the barge, however the Home Office was not made aware of the testing results until days later. It has been confirmed the environmental samples from the water system on the Bibby Stockholm ‘have shown levels of legionella bacteria which require further investigation’.

The government said it was only the day prior (Thursday 10th August) that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) advised to remove people on board, and then only the 6 individuals who had embarked that day, the decision to remove all 39 individuals happened on Friday.

Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said it was ‘extraordinary’ that it appeared proper checks hadn’t taken place before migrants were moved on board, he told Sky News: “It’s absolutely right that the barge has to be evacuated but what a complete and utter shambles. This is a catalogue of catastrophe and government ministers should hang their heads in shame…  It’s once again an example of Tory ministers putting their own interests ahead of the interests of both the community there and of the people they’re putting onto the barge”.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said that health and welfare of those on board the vessel “is our utmost priority” and they are working with the UKHSA, Dorset Council’s environmental health team and Dorset NHS after the confirmation of Legionella bacteria.

The government department added the bacteria samples relate “only to the water system on the vessel itself” and not fresh water entering the barge and stressed there is no health risk to the wider community of Portland & reminded that the disease does not spread from person to person.

People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria, it has been said that no migrants on board the Bibby Stockholm have fallen sick or developed the disease.

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