Eight planes were believed to have been put on lockdown at Britain’s busiest airport this morning (Picture: Any West/Hotwire PR/REX)

Eight planes put on lockdown at Heathrow over coronavirus fears


Eight planes at Heathrow Airport were grounded this morning after passengers complained of coronavirus symptoms.

Passengers on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco were told to stay put after landing because someone on board may have caught the deadly flu-like disease.

The captain reportedly warned they could be stuck on the tarmac for some time as the alarm had been raised on ‘seven other planes’.

A British Airways flight from Kuala Lumpur was understood to have been held up for two hours after staff became concerned a Malaysian family ‘of around eight’  could be carrying the bug.
Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, says his ‘mind started to race’ when he heard the announcement

But airport authorities dispute the length of the delay and say only one customer was suspected of being infected.

Public Health England and Heathrow officials have refused to release any details about this morning’s incident, which would have involved hundreds of passengers.

But United Airlines have confirmed someone had ‘become unwell’ on board Flight 901 from San Francisco.

One traveller said travellers had been asked to fill in a form before workers in hazmat suits came to clean the vehicle.

Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, said staff led a passenger to the back of the aircraft and waited for health officials to arrive.

The traveller said everyone else was allowed to leave about half-an-hour later.

He told MailOnline: ‘We were told to stay sat until authorities came on board, and he [the captain] said that seven other flights had landed and had a similar situation.

‘I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried, my mind started to race.’
Passengers aboard the United Airlines flight say a traveller was taken to the back of the plane (Picture: Any West/Hotwire PR)

The chief development officer for a PR agency said cabin crew were not wearing any masks or protective clothing when dealing with the passenger.

In a statement United Airlines said: ‘Our team at London Heathrow Airport is providing assistance related to United flight 901 (San Francisco-London Heathrow) today, following reports of an individual becoming unwell onboard.

‘The safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority and we continue to work closely with local authorities.

‘It is not clear what happened to the passenger who became unwell, nor where they had travelled from.’

There have now been 15 cases of coronavirus in the US, where the government has banned all travellers who have been to China over the past two weeks.

No cases have been recorded in San Francisco but six people were diagnosed in California – two in nearby San Jose.
Scientists are working round-the-clock in Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the outbreak (Picture: REX)

Nine people in the UK have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus, named this week as Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation.

The disease has now infected more than 64,000 people across the world and has killed more than 1,300 people – mostly in the outbreak’s epicentre of Wuhan, China.

Fears are mounting over the bug quickly spreading through London after it was revealed a Chinese national diagnosed in the capital had taken an Uber to a hospital in Lewisham.

A previous UK coronavirus patient was one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII centre in Westminster on February 6.

The conference’s attendees included high profile people from across the country including bus minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton.

Labour MP for Leeds North West Alex Sobel was at the transport event and has said he will be tested for the disease. 

Cases have also been recorded in York as well as Brighton – the home of businessman Steve Walsh who is thought to have infected 11 people after returning from a conference in Singapore.

Meanwhile a Channel 4 employee is among those being tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell following a trip to Asia.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster said: ‘On Thursday a member of staff at Channel 4 who had travelled to Asia within the last month felt unwell.

‘As a precautionary measure they decided to seek medical advice and, in line with the latest public health advice regarding the coronavirus, they were taken to hospital for a precautionary test. We have informed our staff of this and continue to follow all the latest public health guidance.’