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Airport bosses accused of failing to provide workers with protection from coronavirus

AIRPORT bosses were accused of failing to provide workers with sufficient protection from the coronavirus today as the first two British cases were confirmed.

The potentially deadly respiratory virus has spread from Wuhan in China to 23 other countries, including England where two victims from the same family have been infected.

Both are in a specialist hospital isolation unit in Newcastle.

British nationals evacuated from Wuhan landed at the RAF’s base at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire yesterday.

Passengers on the flight were taken to an isolation unit at Arrowe Park Hospital at the Wirral in Merseyside.

However, general union GMB said airport staff were not being given sufficient protective clothing by employers.

Staff at East Midlands, Liverpool and Stanstead airports have raised concerns over lack of protective equipment.

A worker at Manchester Airport reported that staff had been provided with face masks, but no gloves or hand sanitiser.

They said: “Passengers put their passports in their mouths and the staff are touching them.

"They’ve only been given masks. I asked a manager about gloves, wipes and hand gel. I got the stock answer: ‘I’ll ask’.”

GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said: “No-one should have to go to work worrying about whether they’ll be exposed to a killer infection.

“The Coronavirus is spreading across the world and everyone needs to do what they can to stop it.

“Surely protecting airport staff is a must to keep us all safe?”

Unite, which has more than 1,000 members at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside, said the welfare of staff there should be “a top priority.”

Unite regional officer Derek Jones said: “The unions were briefed on the situation by the NHS management as the welfare of our members working at the hospital is a prime concern.

“It should be remembered that those who are being quarantined are British nationals who left Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak in China, and are entitled to the excellent care that the health service can provide.

“Should any of those at Arrowe Park develop symptoms associated with the virus they will be transferred to the world-renowned Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine which is highly specialised to care for such cases.

“Unite is satisfied that this emergency is being dealt with in a professional manner, but we will be monitoring how the situation develops in the coming days as the welfare of NHS staff remains a key concern.” 

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