Drones are patrolling the English Channel in search of illegal migrants amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, according to The Sun.
Home Office officials confirmed that a drone was operative after search patterns appeared on Flightradar24 site, the publication reported.
Pilot and retired aviation journalist Mike Flynn traced the drone earlier while it was flying from Lydd Airport in Kent.
“It wasn’t going anywhere, just backwards and forwards over a stretch of the Channel between Dover and Calais. I have been monitoring the flights and they have been carrying out the same search pattern every day,” he said, as quoted by The Sun.
The two-engine drones, with cameras linked to patrol boats, can stay in-flight for up to 20 hours, according to reports.
As of Sunday morning, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK has exceeded 78,900, while the death toll from the viral disease has topped 9,800, according to the UK Department of Health.
In recent years, Europe has been struggling with the ongoing migration crisis as people from Africa and the Middle East, fleeing poverty and war, attempt to cross the Mediterranean and reach the continent.
In February, over 100 migrants were reported to have been intercepted while crossing the English Channel in what was said to be the largest recorded number of such incidents in one day.
According to estimates provided by the BBC, the number of migrants arriving in the UK from across the channel rose more than sixfold over 2019, despite London’s efforts to solve the issue. At least 1,892 people crossed the English Channel in small, often rubber, boats last year. By contrast, 562 migrants attempted to sail the channel to reach the shores of England in 2018, with 297 making it to dry land, according to government statistics.