Covid-19 pandemic and management of migrants on quarantine vessels in italy
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University of Perugia School of Specialization in Hygiene and Prevention, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy Italy
Italian Red Cross - National Committee Italy
USMAF/SASN Regional Directorate of Sicily, Ministry of Health
General Directorate of Health Prevention, Ministry of Health - Italy Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A432
Background and objective:
Covid-19 pandemic made the management of the thousands of migrants who have arrived on the sicilian coasts more complex and difficult. At the same time, restrictions to enter italy were in force and reception facilities were not ready to handle several subjects in isolation and quarantine. Ships were converted into isolation structures. Syndromic surveillance and health conditions monitoring was carried out. This study describes the sample hosted in quarantine vessels and the management of covid-19 cases on board.

Vessels were converted according to the “ship safety” guidelines of the ministry of health. Ship crews, medical and logistic personnel of the italian red cross were on board. Migrants were hosted according to the country of origin, gender, families, pathologies and in dedicated areas if they resulted positive to the sars-cov-2 when arrived at the italian coasts. Health data of the first access were recorded in a database from april 2020 to june 2022.

59,700 migrants (6,065 women, 53,619 men, 16 not available) of 56 nationalities were hosted. The most represented countries were Tunisia (15210 migrants), Bangladesh (8959), Egypt (6918); 32 subjects declared a European nationality. The average age of the migrants who declared their age was 24,79 years old (0,38%<1y, 6,97%<18y, 8,12%=18y, 92,43%>18y). 4832 subjects (7,34%) were tested and resulted positive to the SARS-CoV-2 (58.60% before boarding and 41.4% during the quarantine period).

The system provided a solution quickly applicable in a context in which it was necessary to find physical places for this large number of migrants, in order to carry out isolation and quarantine with respect for human dignity. Although the system presented critical points and difficulties, it reduced the potential risk of spreading the virus among the population and in the reception system.