Following the discovery of Legionella in the water, asylum seekers were removed from the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset mere days after their arrival.
The Home Office announced on Friday that all 39 people on board will be relocated after environmental samples found levels of legionella bacteria in the barge’s water system.
The samples “require further investigation,” according to the Home Office, and all passengers were disembarked as a “precautionary measure” on the advice of health experts.
Legionnaires’ disease, a deadly type of lung infection, can be caused by Legionella bacteria.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is reportedly presiding over crisis sessions. No one on board is showing symptoms of the sickness. It is not contagious from person to person.
The Legionella detection only relates to the water system onboard the vessel itself, the Home Office said, and is not a risk to the wider community of Portland or related to fresh water entering the vessel.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “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.
Following a series of delays, fifteen individuals were transferred onto the vessel stationed in Portland Port, which has a capacity of 500. Around 50 people were slated to join, but a series of legal challenges resulted in a last-minute respite for around 20.