- British Airways flight from Kuala Lumpur was held up on the tarmac for two hours when it landed at 6.45am
- Health workers in hazmat came on board the BA34 flight and set up a privacy tent around ‘family of eight’
- United Airlines Flight 901 from San Francisco locked down at 9am this morning after landing at the airport
- Captain reportedly told passengers there was a suspected case on board theirs and seven other planes
- London has been on red alert for more cases after its first confirmed diagnosis was announced on Wednesday
- Almost 65,000 patients around world have caught virus and nearly 1,400 have died – almost all in China
Passengers endured hours of misery at Heathrow Airport this morning when up to eight planes were put on lockdown over coronavirus fears after passengers on board complained of symptoms of the deadly virus.
MailOnline understands a British Airways flight from Kuala Lumpur was held up on the tarmac for two hours when it landed at 6.45am after cabin crew grew concerned a Malaysian family ‘of around eight’ might have the contagious infection, now named SARS-CoV-2.
One passenger on the plane said that health workers in protective gowns and face masks came on board the BA34 flight and set up a screen around the family before evacuating everyone off the plane row by row.
However, airport sources dispute the length of the delay and say only one customer was suspected of having the contagious virus and was tended to on board.
Separately, travellers on the United Airlines Flight 901 from San Francisco were told by the captain to stay in their seats after landing at 9.04am because there was a suspected coronavirus sufferer on board.
Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, who was on the United plane, told MailOnline passengers were warned by the pilot 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 in hazmat suits to come. Everyone was eventually allowed to disembark half-an-hour later.
The airport chaos illustrates the increasing disruption the virus is causing for travellers around the world, even where the risk of genuine infections is considerably lower than it is in the Far East.
Public Health England and Heathrow officials have so far refused to release any information about this morning’s incident, which may have affected hundreds of travellers. But United Airlines, a US company, confirmed someone ‘became unwell’ on board on the San Francisco flight.
The UK has been on red alert for more cases after the capital confirmed its first patient on Wednesday and it emerged another patient had been to a transport conference before being diagnosed.
Other developments in the coronavirus outbreak today include:
- More than 64,000 cases have been diagnosed around the world and 1,363 have died
- Two Labour MPs have have gone into ‘self-isolation’ after going to a Westminster bus conference attended by one of the UK’s nine confirmed patients
- A Channel 4 employee has gone into isolation after falling ill when he returned from a trip to China
- 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 a coronavirus warning
- Amazon and eBay have been accused of cashing in on the coronavirus outbreak with comedy T-shirts making fun of the crisis