U.S. markets open in 8 hours 21 minutes

Abu Dhabi hotels allow some guests to leave after coronavirus scare

DUBAI, March 1 (Reuters) - Two luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi, which had been in lockdown amid concerns about the coronavirus during a professional cycling event, allowed some guests to leave on Sunday after they tested negative for the disease, company spokespersons said.

The W Abu Dhabi and the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi had been placed under lockdown on Friday as authorities screened all guests, including scores of professional cyclists. There were concerns they might have interacted with two Italian cyclists who were suspected of contracting the disease.

The guests at the two hotels, on Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates' capital, included 140 professional cyclists participating in the final two stages of the UAE Tour, which was also cancelled after the tests.

"No cases have been confirmed at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island. We are working closely with the local authorities to facilitate the departure of remaining guests," a spokeswoman of the hotel said.

W Abu Dhabi said some guests at the hotel were cleared to leave the property following their screening results.

"All other guests (will) remain in the hotel pending their screening results and clearance from authorities," a spokeswoman said. "We will resume normal operations as soon we have clearance from the authorities.”

The Abu Dhabi government did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Some guests, including professional cyclists, took to Twitter to say they were allowed to leave on Sunday after they tested negative for the virus.

The UAE, a regional business hub and major transit point for passengers travelling to China and other destinations in Asia, has reported 21 cases of the coronavirus so far but no fatalities. Five of those people have now recovered.

The Gulf state's education ministry announced the suspension of nursery school classes while Dubai's Emirates Group asked staff to take paid and unpaid leave over coronavirus scare, according to an internal email seen by Reuters.

The majority of infections in the Gulf Arab countries have been linked to visits to Iran or involve people who have come into contact with people who had been there.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Susan Fenton)