A British Airways flight to Milan was delayed just moments before departure Monday morning — when one passenger who was “scared of coronavirus” suddenly refused to fly, according to reports.
The Airbus A319 was set to take off from London Heathrow Airport, but pulled back from its gate when the traveler had their change of heart, the Mirror reported. The plane returned to the terminal, where the person disembarked.
“As with all our customers, we will always respect their wishes if they change their mind about flying at the last minute,” a British Airways spokeswoman told the outlet. “The flight left within a few minutes of its scheduled departure time.”
No one on board was showing symptoms of the virus that has devastated mainland China and sickened many in other parts of the world.
Only one person got off the aircraft, according to reports, but NBC News journalist Molly Hunter, who was on the flight, tweeted that three people on board expressed coronavirus fears.
“At #Heathrow, our BA #Milan flight is delayed – the captain just announced there are passengers (I count 3) on board who don’t want to travel due to #coronavirus,” Hunter wrote. “Already pushed back… now re-attaching.”
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not issued a warning against visiting Milan or other Italian cities, according to the Independent.
But Italy has reported more than 220 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and five who have died.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a level-one travel warning for Italy on Monday, cautioning people to “practice usual precautions.”
The country has effectively sealed off a dozen northern towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, two hotspots of the outbreak. Around 50,000 people are prohibited from leaving the towns for the next two weeks without permission.
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