Italians blocked at borders over coronavirus fears

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Italians blocked at borders over coronavirus fears
An Alitalia flight was held in Mauritius over fears about the new coronavirus COVID-19. File photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Passengers leaving Italy ran into travel delays on Monday as other countries blocked a plane, a train and a bus over coronavirus fears.


An Alitalia flight from Rome was being "held" in Mauritius on Monday, the Italian government said, amid health concerns as coronavirus cases in Italy continue to rise.

About 70 people from the affected areas in Italy were being prevented from disembarking, media reports said.

READ ALSO: How concerned should you be about the coronavirus in Italy?

Meanwhile passengers who arrived by bus in Lyon in south-east France Monday from Milan in Italy were kept onboard after the driver was hospitalised with symptoms similar to those caused by the new coronavirus, security sources said.

Police erected a security cordon around the bus at Lyon's Perrache station and ordered the passengers to remain onboard, a spokeswoman for the Lyon area's public security department said.

France has since advised residents returning from northern Italy to avoid "all non-essential outings" and keep their children home from school.

Late on Sunday, Austrian authorities stopped a train on its way from Venice to Munich because of two suspected cases of coronavirus. 

After medics were summoned to the train held on the Italian side of the border, both passengers tested negative and the train was allowed to continue.

MAP: Which parts of Italy are most affected by coronavirus outbreak?

Alitalia said the flight to Mauritius had departed from Rome on Sunday. The Italian foreign ministry said it was in contact with Alitalia and with the Italian embassy in South Africa in order to provide assistance to Italians on board.

Mauritian authorities had told passengers from the worst-affected regions of Lombardy and Veneto that they either had to go into quarantine in Mauritius or return to Italy without getting off the plane, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.

Other passengers were allowed to disembark after a medical screening.

Italy reported its fifth death from the virus on Monday, with the country having the most confirmed cases in Europe.



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