DUBAI (Reuters) – Cycling teams confined to a luxury Abu Dhabi hotel have been instructed by the state’s health authorities to remain in quarantine until March 14 due to coronavirus concerns, several team members said on Wednesday.
Emirati authorities ordered the lockdown of the Crown Plaza in Yas Island and the nearby W hotel after two Italian participants involved in last week’s UAE Tour were suspected of contracting coronavirus.
Members of the French teams Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ as well as Russian outfit Gazprom — including 18 riders — have been confined to the fourth floor of the W Abu Dhabi Hotel since Thursday.
The Crowne Plaza hotel said the lockdown of its premises ended on Feb 29.
The health ministry said on Tuesday that six new cases relating to the cycling event had been discovered. They were identified as Russian, Italian, German and Colombian nationals but it was not clear if they had been confined to W Abu Dhabi hotel.
“All of our riders and staff in the UAE have been tested negative for Covid-19. Still several positive results – not involving our team – have been reported inside our hotel,” FDJ said in a statement.
“As a consequence, we got informed by the president of the UCI (International Cycling Union) that our 12 employees are required to observe a quarantine period until March 14, 2020.”
FDJ still have four riders — Frenchmen Arnaud Demare and David Gaudu, Dutchman Ramon Sinkeldam and Lithuanian Ignatas Konovalovas — two sports directors, three team assistants, two mechanics and one doctor locked in the hotel.
A manager of the French Cofidis team threatened to go on hunger strike on Tuesday if authorities did not allow his team to leave the country.
It was unclear if the quarantine decision applies to all the guests confined to the hotel.
The Emirati government did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The UAE, a regional business hub and major transit point for passengers traveling to China and other destinations in Asia, said the number of coronavirus infected cases in the country had risen to 27. This story officially corrects paragraph 3 in March 4 story to say cyclists are confined to W hotel and not Crowne Plaza following official notification from cyclists and Crowne Plaza hotel. Also corrects paragraph 5 and deletes original paragraph 9 of March 4 story about guests in W hotel
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, additional reporting by Julien Pretot in Paris, editing by Pritha Sarkar)