The Rubattino ferry with 183 migrants on the board was rescued at sea after Italy closed its ports due to the coronavirus epidemic, The Local Italy reports. All the migrants had been pulled to safety in two separate operations by NGO rescue vessels
The health authorities ordered to hold in isolation the passengers from ferry off the coast of Sicily will be disembarked in Palermo. On Monday, all migrants tested negative for the coronavirus.
The migrants will be held longer than the 14-day isolation period would leave Italy open to accusations of illegally detaining the migrants — something of which it is very wary.
Despite the support, a far-right leader Matteo Salvini is to stand trial accused of just that after he blocked migrants from disembarking from a coast guard boat while he was interior minister last year. The politician had insisted they not be allowed off until a deal was made with the EU over who had a duty of care for them.
Following the quarantine, the Rubattino ferry with 183 migrants including two women and 44 unaccompanied minors, would be sent to other EU nations.
Nearby Malta is currently refusing to allow 57 migrants who were rescued from a dingy this week to disembark until there is an EU agreement on their future placement.
As of Monday evening, Malta has officially recorded four COVID-19 deaths, compared with more than 28,000 reported by Italy.
All 1983 migrants are being held just outside Malta’s territorial waters on a private vessel that is normally used for tour cruises, the Mediterranean island nation’s government said.
It remains unclear whether Italy will re-open its ports as the country gradually lifts its two-month lockdown from Monday.