France Detains Italian Bus Passengers Over Coronavirus Fears

A police officer stands guard at the train and bus station Lyon Perrache after marking a security zone, following the blockage of a bus coming from Milan due to suspected COVID-19 the novel coronavirus on board, in Lyon, on February 24, 2020. (Photo by JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP) (Photo by …
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French authorities detained Italian bus passengers on Monday over fears of the coronavirus. The bus driver was reportedly sent to the hospital after showing symptoms similar to the Chinese virus, while police in the southeast city of Lyon, France detained passengers so that doctors arrive on the scene to conduct medical tests.

Passengers on a bus from Milan who arrived in the southeast French city of Lyon on Monday were kept on board for several hours after the driver showed symptoms similar to the coronavirus and was taken to the hospital, according to a report by The Local.

The report added that a spokesperson for Lyon’s public security department said authorities put up a security cordon around the Lyon-Perrache bus station, where the passengers were detained.

France has since suggested to its citizens travelling from northern Italy that they should avoid “all non-essential outings,” and refrain from sending their children to school.

After a doctor arrived on the scene, the bus driver — who was of Italian nationality — was hospitalized along with one other passenger who had light flu-like symptoms, according to Corriere della Sera.

“He has a strong cough,” reports Corriere della Sera of the Italian bus driver.

The report added that the Regional Health Agency in France said that “all passengers” would be “confined until further notice.” The bus had reportedly left Milan, and stopped in Turin and Grenoble, France, before eventually arriving in Lyon.

“A bus is undergoing an inspection,” said a Regional Health Agency spokesperson to AFP. “Our teams are at the scene and an assessment is underway.”

A couple that boarded the bus in Lyon told AFP that they were detained on the bus for over two hours before eventually being allowed disembark after they were checked by doctors who arrived on the scene to conduct medical tests.

The couple added that passengers were told they would be contacted again if the Italian bus driver is confirmed to have the coronavirus.

The passengers were allowed to disembark the bus by 2:00 p.m. Central European Standard Time, after being given face masks.

France is not the only country to detain passengers arriving from Italy on public transportation.

On Monday, Italians were held on a flight in Mauritius over fears of the coronavirus. The passengers on the Alitalia flight were then forced to choose between going into quarantine or being sent back to Italy where they would be trapped on the plane.

On Sunday, Austrian authorities had stopped a train from Venice that was headed to Munich. The train was held on the Italian side of the border amid fears of two passengers suspected to have coronavirus. The train was allowed to continue its journey after medial screenings were conducted resulting in both passengers testing negative.

The Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto are the two worst-affected regions in the country with regards to the coronavirus. Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region, and Venice is the capital of Veneto.

Italy has the most confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in all of Europe, with the death toll at seven, and 283 people having been confirmed with the coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to the Italian civil protection agency.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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