FILE PHOTO: People disembark from an aircraft at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Heathrow Airport will introduce separate areas for passengers travelling from regions that have been affected by the new flu-like coronavirus in China, UK transport minister Grant Shapps said on Wednesday.
Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport and while the risk to the UK population still remains low, over 200,000 passengers pass through the UK hub each day, with 17 flights arriving from China at Heathrow on Wednesday.
The new measures for arrivals will only apply to flights from the Chinese city of Wuhan to London Heathrow, reported the BBC. There is one flight due from Wuhan at 1830 GMT on Wednesday according to Heathrow’s website.
“This is to ensure that when flights come in directly to Heathrow there is a separate area for people to arrive in,” Shapps said.
Wuhan is the epicentre of the outbreak of the virus which can pass between humans and has since spread to other Chinese cities as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
It has claimed nine lives in China where officials say there are 440 confirmed cases.
Shapps told Sky News he was keeping a close eye on the virus, adding that health authority Public Health England would upgrade the risk to the UK population from very low to low.
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton