A boat containing 19 Africans arrived at the Maspalomas sand dunes on Gran Canaria in the hope of finding a better life in Spain, El Mundo reported. However, holiday-makers were alarmed when Red Cross workers left masks, food and water on the beach 50 meters away from the group, many of whom were showing signs of a fever they thought could be Ebola.
At least three of the group were reported to have said they had come from Guinea and Sierra Leone where, along with Liberia, most of the deaths from the deadly virus have been reported.
Four of the immigrants were taken to hospital while others were put in a holding camp to await being sent home to their home country. The Government of Gran Canaria later confirmed none of the group had the disease.
While the treatment of the illegal immigrants sparked anger from some quarters, Red Cross workers say they took a safety-first approach to the possibility of an Ebola threat, with the disease costing 4,818 lives to date, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.
San Bartolomé mayor Marco Aurelio Perez told El Mundo that the holiday island is susceptible to illegal immigrants.
‘It presents risks because it is an established destination,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, illegal immigration has become a common sight in the West.’