No checks, no advice and told to make their own way home: Passengers returning from coronavirus-hit Italy reveal shambolic scenes at UK airports – as officials order them to fill out patient forms that NO-ONE collects
- 10,000 people in Italy have now caught coronavirus, the most outside of China
- People returning to the UK from any part of Italy must self-isolate for two weeks
- But this is not being enforced or well-advertised, according to travellers
- One couple were given forms to fill out but nobody ever collected them
- Another family were split up when one became ill after returning from Italy
- Are you returning from Italy? Email [email protected]
People travelling back to the UK from coronavirus-hit Italy say the Government is doing next to nothing to protect against them spreading the virus in Britain.
A couple flying into London from Venice last night said they were given forms to fill out in case health officials had to track them down if a passenger was diagnosed, but nobody collected the forms.
And a family who returned from northern Italy in half-term were reportedly told they did not need to self-isolate but, when one of them fell ill, only two of them were quarantined in a hospital to wait for test results which were eventually negative.
The travellers’ stories are some of many from people returning from Italy who say they are confused and frustrated by the Government’s travel advice.
People have also been surprised to find they are still able to travel as normal, facing no health checks or questioning at the British border.
The UK Foreign Office is now advising everyone returning from Italy to isolate themselves at home for two weeks in case they caught the coronavirus there.
Italy is now the worst-hit country outside of China – more than 10,000 people there have come down with the illness and at least 631 have died.
Many of the UK’s 382 cases have been among recent visitors to Italy or from people who caught it inside the UK since Italy’s outbreak began. A sixth person died yesterday in Watford.
People flying into the UK from Gatwick from Italy said they were allowed to travel as normal – they will now be expected to isolate themselves at home for two weeks in case they have caught the coronavirus
British Airways has cancelled all of its flights to and from Italy because of the coronavirus outbreak there (Pictured, a BA arrivals board at Heathrow Airport)
At least 382 people in the UK have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and six have died
Denise Owens, who returned from Venice last night after a holiday with her husband, said there had been signs of precautions being taken but they were not followed through.
She told MailOnline: ‘While on the plane we all had to fill out forms so they could trace all passengers if one became ill.
‘I went to hand mine in on the plane but was told we had to hand them in inside the airport, but there was no-one to give these forms to. Nobody was interested. Mine is still in my bag.’
Another family who visited the north of Italy during February half-term said they were told they didn’t need to self-isolate when they came home.
The UK could be heading straight for a coronavirus crisis like the one which has crippled Italy, leading experts have warned.
Italy last night put all of its 60million people into lockdown and banned movement between cities in a drastic bid to contain the outbreak, which has infected 9,000 people.
But one scientist tracking the outbreak in the UK said Britain is following the same trajectory and could end up in a similar situation as Italy within two weeks.
The number of cases in Italy has rocketed from just three on February 21 to at least 9,172. While in the UK it has jumped from nine to 321.
Professor Mark Handley, at University College London, compared the rate of coronavirus infection in Italy, which is in crisis, to that in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, the US and Switzerland and found they’re growing at the same rate
Silvia Monchelato and her family, who have lived in London for 15 years, returned in the same week that Italy’s rampant outbreak started to spiral out of control.
They were told by NHS 111 that they did not need to isolate, she told MailOnline, but she and her son were taken into quarantine when he started to feel ill – but her daughter was sent back to school.
Mrs Monchelato, who is Italian but has had both her children in the UK, had been to Veneto, one of the northern Italian regions at the heart of the country’s outbreak and returned on February 26.
She called an ambulance when her son started to have trouble breathing.
She said: ‘When [paramedics] arrived they told me to get off with my son and my daughter headed off to school.
‘They took us to St Mary’s Hospital and kept us inside the vehicle for about two hours until a team came to test us for the coronavirus.
‘After this, with security, masked medical staff [came and] took us inside the hospital to a cubicle and locked us inside for four days until the negative test result arrived.
‘What if the test had been positive? My daughter who travelled with us went to school all week, free to infect others.
‘The measures that the British government is taking are not at all logical, consistent or protective.’
People in Italy are facing increasingly difficult trips home to the UK after British Airways and Jet2 yesterday announced they were cancelling all flights between the two countries.
Anna De Luca (left) nor Carmine Loru (right) both flew home to England from Italy yesterday but said they weren’t given any information about the Government’s new rule that anyone returning must self-isolate for two weeks
Retired greengrocer Martin Rudd arrived at Stansted from Pisa yesterday and said he was not tested but would now have to go into self-isolation
Ryanair will continue to fly as normal until Saturday – with customers in Italy able to fly home before it stops all international flights from the virus-hit nation until April 8.
EasyJet has cancelled most of its flights at Milan, Venice and Verona but is still flying between other parts of Italy and the UK. The airline said anyone who has not been contacted can assume their flight is scheduled as normal.
The budget airline also flies to England from airports in Bologna, Turin, Livorno, Ancona, Rome, Naples, Bari, Brindisi, Sicily and Sardinia. These services are not affected by cancellations, according to the firm’s website.
Vuelling is also running some flights.
Italian airline Alitalia has stopped flying out of Milan Malpensa and limited flights from Milan Linate to only domestic routes, but it continues to fly internationally out of Rome.
The UK’s outbreak started in earnest last week when the number of confirmed patients more than doubled from 23 to 51 between Saturday, February 29, and Tuesday, March 3.
Government officials have decided not to move to the second stage of Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s coronavirus action plan, and remain in the first phase which focuses on trying to contain and stop the virus.
The number of coronavirus cases confirmed in the UK has risen to 382 and more than 26,000 people have been tested
NHS CAN NOW TEST 10,000 PEOPLE FOR CORONAVIRUS EVERY DAY
NHS England has ramped up its coronavirus testing capacity so 10,000 swabs can be done every day as it braces for an explosion of cases.
The health service is currently conducting around 1,500 daily tests.
By comparison, South Korea has been able to swab up to 15,000 patients every day for the virus despite having a population of 50million compared to Britain’s 66million.
Currently there are around 100 testing centres in England and every sample has to be sent to one of 12 Public Health England laboratories.
It means patients must wait around 48 hours for test results to come back.
But now local NHS hospital labs are being equipped with test kits so they can conduct them on-site without having to send samples away.
Most of the people tested should get a result back within 24 hours, according to PHE.
They have, however, admitted that they expect a ‘significant’ outbreak to take hold in Britain.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, predicted ‘many thousands of people’ would get COVID-19.
Most people only get a mild illness and don’t need medical help, while others may be hospitalised and a small proportion will get pneumonia and die.
Dr Harries told Sky News: ‘We currently have relatively few cases here, which is why we are still in the containment phase [the first step of government action plan].
‘Obviously we will have significant numbers in a way in which the country is not used to.
‘This is the sort of thing that professionally we’re trained for and very rarely see, almost in a professional lifetime.
‘Large numbers of the population will become infected because it’s a naive population, nobody has got antibodies to this virus currently.
‘We will see many thousands of people infected by coronavirus, that’s what we’re seeing in other countries and the important thing for us is to make sure that we manage those infections.’
Engineer Anna De Luca, 30, who lives in Brighton and arrived at Gatwick yesterday, said: ‘There were no checks at all. So I said, I will take some responsibility and wear the mask – even if it’s useless.
‘But even in Naples they did a check, and told us to stay one metre away from the next person. And then on the plane there was nothing. We weren’t given any information.
‘I just asked a man working here, he said maybe you should phone 111, but there were no checks at all.’
A woman is pictured wearing a face mask on the London Underground. There have been more than 50 coronavirus cases diagnosed in London
Women wearing face masks stand in central London today. Officials have said masks probably don’t protect against the COVID-19 virus, which is small enough to pass through the material
RYANAIR, BA AND JET2 CANCEL ALL FLIGHTS TO AND FROM ITALY UNTIL APRIL
Ryanair, British Airways and Jet2 have today cancelled hundreds of flights to and from Italy until April at the earliest and easyJet has also grounded most of its services leaving thousands of customers stranded in the coronavirus-hit country.
BA has axed its 60 flights a day to cities including Milan, Venice and Rome while Jet2 has gone even further and cancelled all its Italian trips for almost six weeks until April 26.
Ryanair today announced it had cancelled all flights from March 14 until April 9, but has told thousands of Brits trapped in Italy they can switch their return flight to come home before Saturday.
EasyJet has stopped the majority of its flights to northern Italy but planes will still fly from southern cities such as Rome and Naples despite a blanket travel ban imposed by the Italian government as deaths reached almost 100 per day yesterday.
Carmine Loru, 39, who arrived at Gatwick on a flight from Florence, said that he had been given no information about self-isolation.
Mr Loru, whose family live in Florence, said: ‘There is a lot of paranoia in Italy, but here there is not even anybody checking us.
‘I read on the BBC that I’m supposed to stay at home for 14 days, but nobody said anything about that on the plane. In Florence they didn’t tell us anything about what to do in London.’
Retired greengrocer Martin Rudd claimed the public hand-sanitiser pumps at Stansted Airport were empty and there was no up to date health advice when in the arrivals hall when he arrived from Pisa yesterday.
The 64-year-old said: ‘I’m in a high-risk group – I’m diabetic and I’ve had a triple heart by-pass – so I’m taking precautions.
‘The hand-sanitiser pumps are empty and the only information is on a notice board in the arrivals hall. There isn’t any one checking to see if people are unwell or taking anyone’s temperature.’
Mr Rudd, who had been on holiday in northern part of Italy but outside the original ‘Red Zone’ with his partner Linda Collis, booked an earlier flight after the Italian government announced a nationwide lock-down.
He said: ‘My son called warned us last night that travel restrictions were changing so I booked an earlier flight so we’ve come home this morning. In fact the plane was practically empty. There were on about 15 people on the flight.’
Mr Rudd said he was taking a taxi home and would stay indoors for the required 14 days in accordance with the latest advice from Public Health England.
He said: ‘I’ve got grandchildren so I don’t want to infect them. I’m well prepared. I’ve got lots of food in, everything I need.
‘I bought a load of hand sanitizer before we left, in fact I took six bottles with us to Italy and I’ve been cleaning my hands after touching anything.’
WHAT ARE THE RULES OF ITALY’S NATIONWIDE QUARANTINE?
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte said last night’s decree could be ‘summarised as follows: I stay at home’.
Here are the rules under the new decree.
THE SICK MUST STAY AT HOME
People who have tested positive for coronavirus must not leave their homes for any reason.
Anyone with a fever or respiratory symptoms is urged to stay at home and limit social contact, including with their doctor.
NO TRAVEL ACROSS ITALY
Travel is only allowed for ‘urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons’. Grocery shopping is considered a ‘necessity’ and still allowed.
To avoid work-related travel, public and private companies have been urged to put their staff on leave.
However, it was not immediately clear how the new measures would be enforced. Trains and numerous flights continued to operate into and out of Milan on Monday despite the earlier restrictions in Lombardy.
Public transport will remain operational, but Conte says he wants as many people as possible to stay at home.
People who do want to travel will need to fill in a document explaining their reasons for doing so and carry it with them.
If they are found to have lied they face fines or jail terms. But they will generally work on an honour system.
People will also be allowed to travel to return home.
NO PUBLIC GATHERINGS
‘All forms of gatherings in public places or sites open to the public’ are banned, the decree says.
Cinemas, museums, theatres, pubs, dance schools, betting shops and discos are all closed. Weddings and funerals are banned. Schools and universities will remain shut until April 3.
Bars and restaurants were only allowed to open between 8am and 6pm, the decree said, and only if a distance of at least 3ft could be kept between customers.
Sporting events of all levels and disciplines were cancelled – stopping play in the Serie A football league. Fixtures in international competitions can go ahead but will be played behind closed doors.
Gyms, sports centres, swimming pools, spas and leisure centres must close.
SHOPS MUST KEEP 3FT DISTANCE
Shops can remain open but only if they can guarantee the 3ft safety distance for customers.
Big and mid-sized shopping centres have to close at the weekend. Food stores are allowed to remain open at all hours.
NO LEAVE FOR HEALTH WORKERS
Leave for health workers is cancelled. People accompanying their friends or relatives to emergency units are not allowed to stay with them in the waiting rooms without express permission.
ALL OF ITALY IS COVERED
The entire country, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, is covered by the decree – covering a total population of some 60million people.
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