Coronavirus scare at UK railway station as masked workers surround woman

A coronavirus scare unfolded at one of Britain's busiest railway stations after two passengers fell ill during a "suspected virus outbreak".

Masked workers set up a cordon around a woman who was sitting alone in a row of seats at Paddington Station, in central London, on Friday night.

Staff appeared to be keeping their distance from the woman while she was sat near a Great Western Railway customer service desk.

Paramedics arrived in two ambulances just before 11pm and transported two people to hospital, but it is unknown if they were tested for the SARS-like virus.

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Passengers who tried to exit the station were stopped and turned around by staff, who told them there was a "suspected virus outbreak".

The station remained open after the scare and trains were operating normally on Saturday.

Photos show a woman sat alone with a small suitcase beside her, surrounded by medical professionals and staff members wearing masks on Friday night.

Mack Grenfell, 24, was travelling home from work and caught his usual train from Oxford to Paddington station when he saw the woman.

The advertising manager said: "I was walking towards one of the exits and I noticed that Paddington was unusually empty – it's normally quite full of people.

"I was headed toward the west exit to find something to eat and got stopped by a staff member who was blocking that half of the station off from passengers.

"The station staff told me I couldn't go through there because there was a suspected virus outbreak.

"They pointed to the woman who looked to be Asian and was sat on her own with her luggage and there was a big circle of about 15 people around her.

"Four or five of them looked to be medical professionals, the rest were staff, and most of them were keeping about five metres [16ft] distance from her.

"I wasn't allowed any closer but she seemed relatively calm despite the situation.

"I took the photo and then headed to the Tube to go home as the way to the Underground was still open."

Passengers described the scene and posted photos on social media.

Geraint Wilcox tweeted: "Half of station closed at Paddington – lone Chinese lady unwell and everyone in panic mode. "Ambulance at scene #coronarvirus #coronaviruslondon #Paddington #london."

Another user wrote: "This thing is serious. They literally cordoned off a Chinese woman at Paddington station."

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "We responded to a call at Paddington Station at 10.52pm on 31 January.

"We sent two ambulances to the scene and took two people to hospital."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We cannot comment on individual cases."

The paramedic response came hours after health bosses confirmed Britain's first two cases of coronavirus.

Two members of a Chinese family, who fell ill while on holiday in York, have tested positive for the flu-like bug.

They are being treated in an infectious diseases unit at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary as health officials try to find everyone they have been in contact with recently.

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