February 8th – On the 7th, local time, a rescue ship carrying 422 migrants in distress sailed to Sicily port on the 7th, and some of the immigrants tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
On February 4th and 5th, the migrants were rescued in four rescue operations in the central Mediterranean Sea, 121 of whom were found crowded on the same rubber boat.
Mediterranean SOS, an humanitarian organization responsible for operating the rescue ship Ocean Viking, said that Italy had approved the ship to enter the port and was expected to arrive on the evening of the 7th.
Some passengers have fallen into the sea during the rescue operation, but have been safely rescued, Luisa Alberta, the search and rescue coordinator on board the Sea Viking said in a statement.
Initially, a total of 424 people were rescued, but on February 7, a pregnant woman and her companion were urgently evacuated to Malta by helicopter.
Eight people were diagnosed with COVID-19 and quarantined on board after rescued migrants were tested for COVID-19.”
422 survivors are locked in a narrow space on the stern deck and they need to be quickly transferred to a safe place,” Albera said.
The Associated Press noted that in recent years, most people who arrived in Italy through sea rescue have not been eligible for asylum because they are considered economic migrants, rather than to escape conflict or persecution such as ethnicity, religion.