Italians on Africa Flight Detained Over Coronavirus Fears

The logo of Italy's flag carrier Alitalia is pictured on the wing of an Airbus A320 on June 4, 2019 at Rome's Fiumicino airport, next to a plane of Italy's Blue Panorama Airlines. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)
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Italians on a flight in Africa were told to choose between quarantine or repatriation due to the recent spread of the coronavirus in Italy.

An Alitalia flight from Rome was “held” in Mauritius on Monday, where local authorities told passengers from the Italian regions most heavily affected by the coronavirus that they had to choose between either being placed in quarantine in Africa, or returned to Italy where they would be trapped on the plane, according to a report by The Local.

The report added that the Italian foreign ministry said it contacted Alitalia and the Italian embassy in South Africa with regards to providing assistance to the Italian passengers on board the 300-person flight.

According to Corriere della Sera, 40 passengers from the heavily-affected Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy were forced to choose between quarantine in Mauritius, or returning to Italy without being able to disembark the plane.

Mauritius authorities eventually permitted the passengers — who were not from the Lombardy and Veneto regions — to get off the plane after a medical screening was conducted. Those passengers were not mandated to be sent into quarantine.

“I’m [traveling] with a 15-month-old girl and I even had to work hard to get some water, let alone retrieve the milk from the suitcases on board,” said passenger Daniele Tagliapietra to Corriere della Sera.

Tagliapietra — who was one of the 40 passengers prevented from disembarking the plane, as he is from Veneto — added that he found the decision to prevent only those from the Veneto and Lombardy regions an “absurd one” due to the fact that “we traveled all closed on the same plane for ten hours.”

Italy has already confirmed 229 cases of coronavirus, which have already resulted in seven deaths, according to Corriere della Sera, making Italy the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in Europe.

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

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