The woman was staying at a migrant holding centre designed to hold about 100 people but in recent days has been home to nearly 10 times as many due to a pickup in arrivals.
A migrant woman who tested positive to coronavirus has given birth to a baby on board a helicopter as she was flying to Sicily from the small southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the Sicilian regional government said.
The woman was staying at a migrant holding centre designed to hold about 100 people, which in recent days has been home to nearly 10 times as many due to a pickup in arrivals.
Since she was positive, health operators decided to transfer her to the Cervello hospital, in the Sicilian capital of Palermo, so that she could give birth in safety. Palermo is a one-hour flight from Lampedusa.
But there was no time. She gave birth on the helicopter as it was flying over the southern coast of Sicily, close to the city of Agrigento, a spokesman for the Sicilian government told Reuters.
* Rembrandt (1606 – 1669), "Simeon's Song of Praise" (1669) oil on canvas (99 × 80 cm) — 1669, Museum Nationalmuseum, Stockholm— Daniela Brogi (@DanielaBrogi) September 1, 2020
* Lampedusa, 31 agosto 2020 pic.twitter.com/RAjsmI5pB2
Arrivals gain pace
The Sicilian and the national government have constantly been at loggerheads in the past weeks over the migrant issue, with Governor Nello Musumeci accusing Rome of not giving him enough help in dealing with the landings from Africa.
After a decline in recent years, those attempting the perilous journey to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy's shores increased again, despite Rome closing its ports to migrant boats because of the coronavirus.
Some 19,400 have landed so far in 2020 compared with around 5,200 in the same period last year, official data show.
Some 353 people rescued in the Mediterranean will soon arrive in Palermo and be transferred on a ship for quarantine, the Sea Watch charity said on Twitter, provoking the ire of right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini.
🔴BREAKING! Finally relief for survivors on board today! They have just been given the news they have a place of safety in #Palermo, Sicily; on the 11th day after the first #SeaWatch4 rescue in the #Mediterranean. The 353 people will first be transferred to a ship for quarantine. pic.twitter.com/q3dOm3k74q— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) September 1, 2020
"The League will sue the government for aiding and abetting illegal immigration if it allows these people to land," he wrote on Facebook.