February 28, 2020 / 12:35 PM / a month ago

Cycle stars in lockdown as two Gulf hotels isolated over coronavirus scare

DUBAI (Reuters) - Two luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi were in lockdown on Friday to isolate guests including scores of professional cyclists after two Italian members of the tour the riders were participating in were suspected of contracting the coronavirus.

The final two stages of the UAE Tour, featuring 140 riders including some of the sport’s biggest stars, was canceled after the tests.

The W Abu Dhabi and the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, both on Yas Island, said they have been placed under lockdown as authorities screened all guests over concerns they might have interacted with the Italians.

“This means that no one can leave or enter the property until it is deemed safe to do so,” said a spokesman for the W.

On Thursday evening, riders including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome took to Twitter to say they were confined to their hotel rooms.

“We are all awaiting testing and will remain at the hotel until further notice,” Froome posted.

UAE authorities reported the positive diagnosis of the Italians on Thursday.

But cycling’s governing body UCI said the two cases of the illness among two staff members of one of the participating teams were only suspected ones.

Other people who also interacted with the two Italians on Yas island have been isolated at home, United Arab Emirates news agency WAM said, citing the health department of Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.

It was not immediately clear which of the two hotels the Italians were staying at.

One of the hotels was accommodating participants in the race and the other the media following it, wrote a journalist with the magazine VeloNews who is staying in one of them.

The doors of the hotel accommodating the media were chained shut for part of the night, the journalist wrote.

“Now, there are ‘merely’ barricades across the door with policemen watching on from the outside,” he said. “Behind them, I saw men in full protective medical suits and masks climbing in and out of a medical testing van.”

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Alison Williams and editing by John Stonestreet

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