March 8, 2020 / 7:26 AM / a month ago

Members of teams in Abu Dhabi hotel leave quarantine sooner than expected

DUBAI (Reuters) - Members of the cycling teams confined to a luxury Abu Dhabi hotel due to coronavirus concerns have left quarantine on Sunday, they said, a week before an initial date set by the Gulf state’s health authorities.

Members of the French teams Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ as well as Russian outfit Gazprom — including 18 riders — had been confined to the fourth floor of the W Abu Dhabi Hotel since Feb. 27. Last week, they were instructed to remain in quarantine until March 14.

Emirati authorities ordered the lockdown of the Crown Plaza in Yas Island and the nearby W hotel after two Italian participants involved in last month’s UAE Tour were suspected of contracting coronavirus.

“We are already at the airport, going home,” a member of Cofidis team told Reuters on Sunday morning.

It was unclear if all the teams under quarantine have been allowed to leave the country.

The W Abu Dhabi Hotel confirmed that some guests have been allowed to leave but others will remain in quarantine as per directions of the UAE’s health authorities.

“We will resume normal operations as soon we have clearance from the health authorities,” a spokesperson of the hotel said, declining to give more details, referring questions to local authorities.

The Emirati government did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The health ministry said last week that six new cases of coronavirus 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.

The Crowne Plaza hotel said the lockdown of its premises ended on Feb 29.

A manager of the Cofidis team threatened to go on hunger strike on Tuesday if authorities did not allow his team to leave the country.

The UAE, a regional business hub and major transit point for passengers travelling to China and other destinations in Asia, said the number of coronavirus infected cases in the country had risen to 27.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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