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.
“No individuals on board have presented with symptoms of Legionnaires’, and asylum seekers are being provided with appropriate advice and support.
“The samples taken relate only to the water system on the vessel itself and therefore carry no direct risk indication for the wider community of Portland nor do they relate to fresh water entering the vessel. Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person.”
- Environmental samples from the water system on the Bibby Stockholm have shown levels of legionella bacteria which require further investigation. This is believed to have come from the pipes on the vessel. Tests of the water at point of entry to the vessel has shown no indication of legionella.
- On the evening of Thursday 10 August, the UKHSA advised the Home Office to remove the six asylum seekers who arrived on the vessel yesterday. However, as a further temporary precaution, to reduce the health risk as much as possible, the Home Office will remove all 39 asylum seekers from the vessel to contingency asylum accommodation.
- The Home Office is now awaiting the results of follow up tests which have been carried out on the water system by Dorset Council Environmental Health officers. UKHSA will provide additional advice following receipt of further test results.
- Legionnaires’ disease is an uncommon form of pneumonia caused when a person breathes in air that contains legionella bacteria in droplets of water. If these bacteria get into water supplies in buildings, they can cause a risk to humans through air conditioning systems, showers and spa pools. Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person and can only be contracted from contaminated water, usually when it is inhaled in aerosol form, from sources such as showers and air conditioning systems.
- There are robust and well-rehearsed processes in place across the government estate to test for legionella bacteria. It is not unusual to identify legionella bacteria in warm water systems which is why they are subject to regular testing procedures.
- More information about Legionnaires’ disease is available online: www.nhs.uk/conditions/legionnaires-disease/