People travelling back to the UK from coronavirus-hit Italy say the Government is doing next to nothing to protect against them spreading the virus in Britain.
A couple flying into London from Venice last night said they were given forms to fill out in case health officials had to track them down if a passenger was diagnosed, but nobody collected the forms.
And a family who returned from northern Italy in half-term were reportedly told they did not need to self-isolate but, when one of them fell ill, only two of them were quarantined in a hospital to wait for test results which were eventually negative.
The travellers’ stories are some of many from people returning from Italy who say they are confused and frustrated by the Government’s travel advice.
People have also been surprised to find they are still able to travel as normal, facing no health checks or questioning at the British border.
The UK Foreign Office is now advising everyone returning from Italy to isolate themselves at home for two weeks in case they caught the coronavirus there.
Italy is now the worst-hit country outside of China – more than 10,000 people there have come down with the illness and at least 631 have died.
Many of the UK’s 382 cases have been among recent visitors to Italy or from people who caught it inside the UK since Italy’s outbreak began. A sixth person died yesterday in Watford.
Denise Owens, who returned from Venice last night after a holiday with her husband, said there had been signs of precautions being taken but they were not followed through.
She told MailOnline: ‘While on the plane we all had to fill out forms so they could trace all passengers if one became ill.
‘I went to hand mine in on the plane but was told we had to hand them in inside the airport, but there was no-one to give these forms to. Nobody was interested. Mine is still in my bag.’
Another family who visited the north of Italy during February half-term said they were told they didn’t need to self-isolate when they came home.
Silvia Monchelato and her family, who have lived in London for 15 years, returned in the same week that Italy’s rampant outbreak started to spiral out of control.
They were told by NHS 111 that they did not need to isolate, she told MailOnline, but she and her son were taken into quarantine when he started to feel ill – but her daughter was sent back to school.
Mrs Monchelato, who is Italian but has had both her children in the UK, had been to Veneto, one of the northern Italian regions at the heart of the country’s outbreak and returned on February 26.
She called an ambulance when her son started to have trouble breathing.
She said: ‘When [paramedics] arrived they told me to get off with my son and my daughter headed off to school.
‘They took us to St Mary’s Hospital and kept us inside the vehicle for about two hours until a team came to test us for the coronavirus.
‘After this, with security, masked medical staff [came and] took us inside the hospital to a cubicle and locked us inside for four days until the negative test result arrived.
‘What if the test had been positive? My daughter who travelled with us went to school all week, free to infect others.
‘The measures that the British government is taking are not at all logical, consistent or protective.’
People in Italy are facing increasingly difficult trips home to the UK after British Airways and Jet2 yesterday announced they were cancelling all flights between the two countries.
Ryanair will continue to fly as normal until Saturday – with customers in Italy able to fly home before it stops all international flights from the virus-hit nation until April 8.
EasyJet has cancelled most of its flights at Milan, Venice and Verona but is still flying between other parts of Italy and the UK. The airline said anyone who has not been contacted can assume their flight is scheduled as normal.
The budget airline also flies to England from airports in Bologna, Turin, Livorno, Ancona, Rome, Naples, Bari, Brindisi, Sicily and Sardinia. These services are not affected by cancellations, according to the firm’s website.
Vuelling is also running some flights.
Italian airline Alitalia has stopped flying out of Milan Malpensa and limited flights from Milan Linate to only domestic routes, but it continues to fly internationally out of Rome.
Engineer Anna De Luca, 30, who lives in Brighton and arrived at Gatwick yesterday, said: ‘There were no checks at all. So I said, I will take some responsibility and wear the mask – even if it’s useless.
‘But even in Naples they did a check, and told us to stay one metre away from the next person. And then on the plane there was nothing. We weren’t given any information.
‘I just asked a man working here, he said maybe you should phone 111, but there were no checks at all.’
Carmine Loru, 39, who arrived at Gatwick on a flight from Florence, said that he had been given no information about self-isolation.
Mr Loru, whose family live in Florence, said: ‘There is a lot of paranoia in Italy, but here there is not even anybody checking us.
‘I read on the BBC that I’m supposed to stay at home for 14 days, but nobody said anything about that on the plane. In Florence they didn’t tell us anything about what to do in London.’
Retired greengrocer Martin Rudd claimed the public hand-sanitiser pumps at Stansted Airport were empty and there was no up to date health advice when in the arrivals hall when he arrived from Pisa yesterday.
The 64-year-old said: ‘I’m in a high-risk group – I’m diabetic and I’ve had a triple heart by-pass – so I’m taking precautions.
‘The hand-sanitiser pumps are empty and the only information is on a notice board in the arrivals hall. There isn’t any one checking to see if people are unwell or taking anyone’s temperature.’
Mr Rudd, who had been on holiday in northern part of Italy but outside the original ‘Red Zone’ with his partner Linda Collis, booked an earlier flight after the Italian government announced a nationwide lock-down.
He said: ‘My son called warned us last night that travel restrictions were changing so I booked an earlier flight so we’ve come home this morning. In fact the plane was practically empty. There were on about 15 people on the flight.’
Mr Rudd said he was taking a taxi home and would stay indoors for the required 14 days in accordance with the latest advice from Public Health England.
He said: ‘I’ve got grandchildren so I don’t want to infect them. I’m well prepared. I’ve got lots of food in, everything I need.
‘I bought a load of hand sanitizer before we left, in fact I took six bottles with us to Italy and I’ve been cleaning my hands after touching anything.’