Six now dead in Italian coronavirus outbreak, 219 infected: Milan coach is impounded in France and passengers hospitalised, shortly after Mauritius demanded plane travellers from Italy flew straight home

Monday, February 24, 2020
By Paul Martin

French police surrounded the coach in Lyon after it arrived from Italy with the driver reportedly coughing
Passengers were hauled off the FlixBus coach and taken into quarantine while driver was taken to hospital
In Mauritius, passengers from Italy’s worst-affected regions were held up after arriving on a flight from Rome
Forty of them eventually chose to return home to northern Italy where the virus death toll has risen to six
Italy has confirmed 229 cases of the virus, by far the largest number outside China, Japan and South Korea
Britain has said the ‘threat is low’ although a BA flight to Milan was delayed when a worried passenger left
EU officials said today they are not planning to restrict free movement in the Schengen area ‘for the moment’

24 February 2020

An unwell coach driver sparked a coronavirus panic at a French bus station today after arriving with virus symptoms from Italy, where six people have now died in Europe’s first major outbreak.

French police impounded the FlixBus coach in Lyon today after it arrived from Milan with the driver reportedly suffering a bad cough.

After a two-hour lockdown on the bus, passengers were hauled off the coach and taken into quarantine in the bus station, while the driver was hurried to hospital to be screened for the deadly virus.

The growing alarm has already prompted questions over whether European countries will have to shut their borders – although the EU said today it was not planning to restrict travel in the Schengen area ‘for the moment’.

The scare in Lyon came shortly after an Italian passenger jet was held in Mauritius over virus fears, with dozens of passengers from Lombardy and Veneto – the worst-affected regions – told to return home or face quarantine.

Forty of the 224 people on board eventually chose to return home to northern Italy where 50,000 people have been placed under lockdown, schools shut and public events banned in a drastic bid to contain the virus.

Three more deaths were confirmed in Lombardy today after three men aged 80, 84 and 88 died from the virus, bringing Italy’s death toll to six. At least one was already in hospital while another had recently suffered a heart attack.

Reports that another woman had died at a Brescia hospital have been denied by Lombardy health authorities.

The head of the World Health Organisation today warned of a ‘potential pandemic’ with more than 79,000 people now infected around the world and the death toll above 2,600.

One British Airways flight to Milan was delayed this morning after a passenger left the plane shortly before take-off at Heathrow, allegedly because they feared they would catch the virus.

BA said it was ‘reviewing the situation’ today, with many Britons returning to school or work after half-term holidays abroad, but the UK government insisted that ‘the threat to the British public is currently low’.

One man who returned to the UK from Codogno – one of the towns in lockdown – said he called the NHS today but was told to ‘continue as usual’.

The Rest…HERE

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