A group of 28 mainly Romanian migrant workers who have been diagnosed with coronavirus have been moved onto a boat moored next to an industrial estate in Arnhem while they recover from the disease, local officials have confirmed.
The group lived in a complex of three houses in Velp and all worked for the same staffing agency, according to local broadcaster Omroep Gelderland.
The transfer to the boat, which took place using two coaches on Sunday morning, is a ‘safe solution’ Arnhem mayor Ahmed Marcouch, who chairs the regional public safety board said. It is unclear what sort of boat the workers have been taken to, but some reports describe it as a cruise ship.
The other 21 residents have been told to stay in quarantine for 14 days. The outbreak came to light after a 47-year-old woman who lived in one of the houses was taken to hospital after becoming ill. She was diagnosed with coronavirus and the other residents of the complex were then tested.
Both the safety board and the local health board are in contact with the staffing agency, named by Omroep Gelderland as the Horizon Groep. It also organised the workers’ accommodation. Companies in Scherpenzeel and Velp, where the men and women worked, have also been informed.
The local authority has written to people living near the complex to let them know about the situation. ‘It is difficult for the residents [of the complex] to be sick in a country where you do not speak the language,’ mayor Carol van Eert said. ‘I hope they get well soon.’
‘In addition, I can understand that neighbours may feel uneasy about the situation,’ he said. ‘But all the required measures have been taken to contain the infection as much as possible.’
According to Omroep Gelderland, local D66 councillors have asked officials to give further details about the group’s living and working conditions. Unions and migrant rights groups have warned that the cramped accommodation which many labour migrants live in are making it impossible to take social distancing measures.
D66 councillors also want to know why the 28 people have been put on a boat to recover and what other possible locations had been considered.
A spokeswoman for the Horizon group told Omroep Gelderland that the workers were not seriously ill and their families should not worry. Nor should they worry about their wages because they are employed and will be paid, the spokeswoman said.
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