Coronavirus: Heathrow hotel closed to public and guests removed after health officials designate it as quarantine centre for infected

Shaun Lintern
The Holiday Inn Heathrow Ariel hotel has been closed to the public and block booked as a potential quarantine centre for coronavirus cases: Google

A hotel near Heathrow has been closed to the public and designated as a coronavirus quarantine centre as health officials prepare for more cases in the UK.

The Holiday Inn Heathrow Ariel hotel closed on Saturday with staff told it would not reopen for bookings until next month at the earliest.

Sources told The Independent the hotel has been block booked as a potential quarantine zone for international visitors to the UK who develop coronavirus or for Britons evacuated to the UK from overseas.

Guests booked at the three-star hotel, which is operated under franchise from the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), have been transferred to sister hotels.

The hotel’s general manager, who did not give his name, confirmed the hotel had been closed but he emphasised there had not been any cases of coronavirus at the hotel.

A spokesman for the IHG group told The Independent the hotel had been “block booked” and he could not comment further.

An NHS accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral and a hotel and conference centre at Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes have already been used to quarantine people evacuated from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

It comes as the UK is to decide whether to evacuate 74 Britons quarantined on the cruise liner, the Diamond Princess, moored off Yokohama in Japan, where 454 people have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

A spokesman for the prime minister said the government was in contact with the British passengers to “gauge interest in a possible repatriation fight”.

A No 10 spokesman, said: “We sympathise with all those caught up in this extremely difficult situation.

“The Foreign Office is in contact with all British people on the Diamond Princess, including to establish interest in a possible repatriation flight.

“We are urgently considering all options to guarantee the health and safety of those on board.”

The USA has sent two planes to evacuate its citizens from the Diamond Princess with one landing at an air force base in California this morning.

The State Department said 14 of the evacuees had the virus but were allowed to board the flight because they did not have symptoms.

They were being isolated separately from other passengers on the flight, the US State and Health and Human Services said in a joint statement.

The UK government is also trying to track down scores of Britons who disembarked from the MS Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia on Friday, after it was later discovered that one of the passengers was carrying the virus.

The cruise ship’s operator, Holland America, said passengers were screened as they left the ship.

“Our staff are providing consular assistance to British nationals in Cambodia who have travelled on the Westerdam cruise ship and are working with the operator to establish contact with those who have recently disembarked,” the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

China has reported 70,635 cases, including 1,772 deaths. Fewer than 700 cases have been reported by 25 other countries, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general.

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