Some British tourists are being allowed to leave a Tenerife hotel which has been on lockdown after four Italian guests, including a doctor, tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The Britons are among 130 people out of more than 700 tourists at the four-star H10 Costa Adeje Palace who can now depart the complex.
Officials said none of the 700 or so have shown symptoms of the potentially deadly respiratory virus and the remaining guests could also be given permission to leave soon.
More than 160 British holidaymakers are among the hundreds of people who have been holed up in quarantine for three days there and told to stay in their rooms.
Sky News has confirmed UK tourists are among the 130 who can now depart because they arrived there after 24 February – when by that time the four who tested positive for COVID-19 were taken to hospital.
It is not clear how many Britons were allowed to leave.
Although guests were initially told to stay in their rooms while they were tested for COVID-19 – the disease caused by the new coronavirus – some have been pictured swimming in the hotel pool and laying on sunloungers.
Local authorities on the Spanish Canary Island have now said people without symptoms can move around the hotel, including to the pool and bar.
This has raised fears the virus will spread rapidly among the guests, with social media photos showing people not wearing face masks and sharing buffet meals.
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A British man, who did not want to be named, said the hotel was unable to enforce quarantine measures and nobody felt safe.
Another said an aqua gym class was held on Thursday morning in the pool.
A spokesman for the regional government said: “All these tourists, clients, guests present no symptoms … and a decision has been made that frees the hotel from the presence of 130 people.
“At the same time, there is the possibility that the remaining ones … could be leaving the hotel as soon as a similar situation is verified.”
Downing Street has defended the response to the situation at the hotel.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The Foreign Office has been in contact with more than 100 British nationals who are staying in the hotel.
“They are providing them with support, they are also in regular contact with local authorities and tour companies to share information.
“The quarantine is being managed by the Spanish authorities. We understand that those guests who have been assessed by medical staff and who are not showing symptoms are free to move around within the hotel.”
Pressed on whether there would be an evacuation flight for Britons, the spokesman said: “We base all our decisions on medical and scientific advice and everything is kept under review.”
Meanwhile, one of two new cases of COVID-19 in the UK is from Derbyshire and they became infected while in Tenerife.
In other developments around the world:
- A vice president of Iran, Masoumeh Ebtekar, has the new coronavirus
- Stock markets are falling sharply again as countries report a surge in coronavirus cases
- Some UK hospitals and other medical sites including GP surgeries will now test flu patients for the virus
- The government has banned the export of an HIV drug and anti-malaria infection treatment so that they can be tested as potential treatments for COVID-19
- Donald Trump has appointed his vice president Mike Pence to lead the US response to the coronavirus
- Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency recommends the country’s holiday firms suspend tours to Italy, South Korea and Iran until outbreaks are brought under control
- South Korea has reported 334 more cases, bringing its total to 1,595 – the second-highest number after China
- China reports 433 new cases, 383 in the city of Wuhan, where the disease emerged in December