Heathrow Airport was gripped by coronavirus fears this morning when up to eight planes were put on lockdown after passengers on board complained of symptoms of the deadly virus.
Mail Online reports this morning: “Travellers on the United Airlines Flight 901 from San Francisco were told by the captain to stay in their seats after landing because someone might have the contagious infection, now named SARS-CoV-2.
Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, told Mail Online passengers were warned by the plane’s captain that they could be on the tarmac for a while because ‘seven other planes’ also had suspected cases.
“He revealed staff on the flight took a passenger to the back of the plane without wearing any protective gear or face masks and waited for health officials to come. Everyone was eventually allowed to disembark half-an-hour later.
“The lockdowns at Heathrow today raise the prospect that flights landing in the UK from every corner of the world could experience similar delays for months, until the outbreak dies down,” the report said.
“London has been on red alert for more cases after the capital suffered its first confirmed patient on Wednesday. Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus and nearly 1,400 have died.
Other developments in the coronavirus outbreak today include:
- China reported another spike in deaths and cases yesterday with 121 succumbing to the virus and 5,090 people catching it
- The family of eight-month-old James Adlam, from Worthing, West Sussex, will find out today if the toddler has coronavirus
- Top scientists have ruled out the coronavirus was engineered, dispelling rumours the virus had escaped from a lab
- Churchgoers were urged to avoid communion wine and shaking hands if they have ‘coughs and sneezes’ in coronavirus warning
- Amazon and eBay have been accused of cashing in on the coronavirus outbreak with comedy T-shirts making fun of the crisis
Nearly 1,400 patients have been killed by coronavirus since the outbreak began in Wuhan.
Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus after China reported 5,000 new cases yesterday
“Mr West, a chief development officer at the PR agency Hotwire, knew something was wrong when a fire engine drove to meet the plane on the tarmac and the aircraft was not allowed to park at the terminal,” the report added.
“He said his mind ‘started to race’ and worry set in when he heard the contagious disease could be on board.
“The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6 (Boris Johnson ‘s Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton speaks at the summit)
The summit’s speakers included Baroness Vere, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the QEII Centre, which is around 100 yards from Westminster Underground Station.
“Everyone was told to fill in a Health England health form which quizzed people about their recent travel history, symptoms and contact details.”
According to Mr West: “They were let off 25 minutes later but the sick person was kept behind and their luggage was separated from the other passengers.
“Heathrow refused to confirm or deny this morning’s events and said it was one for Public Health England, which has yet to update MailOnline on the situation.
“Heathrow is believed to be running as normal, with all runways open.
“This morning it was revealed one of Britain’s nine confirmed coronavirus cases attended a Westminster bus conference just a stone’s throw from Parliament.
“The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6, whose star speaker was Boris Johnson‘s Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton.
“MailOnline understands the coronavirus patient who attended the conference was not the most recent case – a Chinese woman who took an Uber to A&E at Lewisham Hospital in south London on Sunday night.
“The patient’s presence in central London at a packed conference will spark fears among the hundreds of people there from the transport industry amid growing public anxiety about the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“Doctors have warned London’s status as a transport hub could exacerbate the spread of the highly contagious illness which can survive on door knobs and train handrails for hours and spreads via people’s breath.
“Amid fears of the virus in the capital, people have been avoiding Chinatown in Soho.
“The normally-bustling tourist hotspot were eerily deserted last night, with restaurants left empty just weeks after Chinese new Year.
“Elsewhere, two GP surgeries were closed after patients with suspicious symptoms turned up unannounced.
“The Ritchie Street Health Centre in Islington, north London, posted a message on its website stating it would be closed until today ‘due to the coronavirus’.
“However it has emerged that no patients or staff at the practice have tested positive for the virus – and it remains unclear why management took the decision to shut.
“NHS officials say the move may have been precautionary after a patient was tested for the virus after turning up at the practice with symptoms.”
Top Feature Photo: Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, was on the United Airlines Flight 901 from San Francisco when it got put on lockdown on the runway at Heathrow (shown) this morning amid coronavirus fears