71 rescued migrants brought ashore by Armed Forces of Malta

Home Affairs Ministry spokesperson says 71 rescued migrants were brought ashore by the Armed Forces of Malta around 2am and are being tested for coronavirus

71 migrants were rescued by the AFM on Sunday and brought ashore
71 migrants were rescued by the AFM on Sunday and brought ashore

A group of 71 migrants rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta on Sunday night were brought ashore in the early hours of Monday, the Home Affairs Ministry said.

The migrants disembarked in Malta at around 2am and taken to the Ħal Far Initial Reception Centre, where they will be kept in quarantine for two weeks.

The migrants were aboard an overcrowded dinghy and it was humanitarian NGO Alarm Phone that raised the alarm on Sunday amid fears that Malta was planning a pushback to Libya. The migrants had been spotted by the NGO rescue aircraft Moon Bird.

The migrants were eventually rescued by the AFM's P61 vessel.

The ministry spokesperson said swab tests for coronavirus are being conducted.

The nationality and gender of those aboard is yet to be established but a majority of them were men.

88 migrants from 127 who were brought to Malta last week have tested positive for COVID-19 and are being kept in isolation at the Ħal Far Initial Reception Centre.

The government has issued an expression of interest for the leasing of a vessel to accomodate migrants held in quarantine. The call closes today.

Initial reception facilities are currently housing more than 3,500 people at a time when the country is also facing a surge in COVID-19 cases.