NO ENTRY FOR ITALIAN PASSENGERS OVER CORONA VIRUS CONCERNS AS FEAR FACTOR NOW A GROWING ISSUE
(Posted 24th February 2020)
An Alitalia Airbus was grounded on arrival by the Mauritius health authorities over concerns that some of the passengers may be infected with COVID19, aka Corona Virus, following the news from Italy over the weekend that several towns in northern Italy have been put under quarantine.
It appears from reports received from Port Louis that the passengers, all arriving on long booked vacations, were given the choice of either being put in quarantaine or else return home directly without disembarking in Mauritius.
It is also understood that Mauritius may be facing financial claims from the affected passengers, said to be close to 300 on board that aircraft, over their ordeal, loss of vacation time and potential financial loss – something lawyers in Italy are apparently already looking into under European consumer laws.
Italy now has the third highest concentration of persons infected with or suspected to be infected with COVID19 and the government in Rome itself has taken unprecedented measures to isolate entire townships, using military and police to enforce the ban.
Austria over the weekend for some time halted trains to and from Italy but this measure was later rescinded.
The carnival in Venice and other events were subsequently cancelled.
The move by Mauritius sets a precedent as Italian tourists going to other destinations in Africa have not been singled out in this fashion and while feedback from Mauritius over this measure appear deeply divided, has the situation nevertheless been created.
Later in the day, after diplomatic intervention by the Italian Embassy from Pretoria, which also oversees relations with Mauritius, were passengers not originating from the affected Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto tested and allowed to leave the aircraft but some 70 travelers remain stuck on the aircraft as their homes are in the affected regions. It is not known at present if they will eventually be allowed to disembark or will be sent home. Questions however are also being raised over the test kits and if they are sufficient to identify the virus in a person, something which in other parts of the world has failed when only at a much later stage an infection could be verified.
In a related development was a bus from Italy cordoned off in France, with passengers from Italy left onboard. This happened earlier today, after their driver developed symptoms which were interpreted as similar to those of person who had contracted the virus. The drama is playing out in the city of Lyon, where the bus was on arrival surrounded by police.