Heathrow to create separate arrival area to contain deadly new virus
London Heathrow Airport has introduced a new precautionary area to help in the containment of the coronavirus. U.K. transport minister Grant Shapps announced on Wednesday that the airport will introduce a separate area for passengers arriving from the region that has been affected by the fast-spreading virus.
As of Wednesday's announcement, Heathrow is containing arriving passengers from the Chinese city of Wuhan. Currently, there is only one nonstop flight from Wuhan (WUH) to LHR, which operates three times weekly by China Southern.
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Flight CZ673, which is a codeshare flight with British Airways, arrives at Heathrow on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with a scheduled arrival time of 6:30 p.m. China Southern, which was previously a member of the SkyTeam alliance before leaving in January 2019, operates out of Heathrow's Terminal 4.
"This is to ensure that when flights come in directly to Heathrow there is a separate area for people to arrive in," Shapps said.
Wuhan, the most populous city in Central China, is the epicenter of the coronavirus. Since first reports, it has spread to other Chinese cities, as well as reported cases in the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Chinese officials say there have been 440 cases of the flu-like virus reported in the country and nine people have died.
According to the BBC, Chinese authorities have advised people from traveling into and out of Wuhan. The U.K. has upgraded its risk for coronavirus from very low to low.
"The welfare of our passengers and colleagues is always our main priority and we are working with the Government to support the implementation of enhanced monitoring measures as a precaution," a spokesperson for Heathrow said in a statement. "We would like to reassure passengers that the Government assesses the risk of a traveller contracting Coronavirus to be low. We would encourage anyone with individual questions or concerns to refer to guidance from Public Health England and the Foreign Office.”
Coronaviruses are a group of respiratory-based viruses transmitted through coughs and sneezes by infected patients and touching of contaminated objects. Common symptoms include a fever, dry cough, mild breathing difficulties, stomach issues, diarrhea and general body aches.