February 28, 2020 / 12:38 PM / in a month

Cycle stars in lockdown as two Gulf hotels isolated over coronavirus scare

DUBAI (Reuters) - Two luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi were in lockdown on Friday to isolate guests including scores of professional cyclists after two Italian members of the tour the riders were participating in were suspected of contracting the coronavirus.

The final two stages of the UAE Tour, featuring 140 riders including some of the sport’s biggest stars, was canceled after the tests.

The W Abu Dhabi and the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, both on Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, said they had been placed under lockdown as authorities screened all guests over concerns they might have interacted with the Italians.

“This means that no one can leave or enter the property until it is deemed safe to do so,” said a spokesman for the W.

Other people who also interacted with the two Italians on Yas Island have been isolated at home, UAE state news agency WAM said, citing the health department of Abu Dhabi.

The health department said that 167 people isolated on the island had tested negative for the virus and that remaining test results would emerge in the next few hours, according to WAM. It did not give the total number of people being screened.

On Thursday evening, riders including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome took to Twitter to say they were confined to their hotel rooms.

“We are all awaiting testing and will remain at the hotel until further notice,” Froome posted.

UAE authorities reported the positive diagnosis of the Italians on Thursday.

But cycling’s governing body UCI said the two cases of the illness among two staff members of one of the participating teams were only suspected ones.

It was not immediately clear which of the two hotels the Italians were staying at.

One of the hotels was accommodating participants in the race and the other the media following it, wrote a journalist with the magazine VeloNews who is staying in one of them.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Maher Chmaytelli and Hesham Abdul Khalek; Editing by Alison Williams and John Stonestreet

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