UPDATE 2-Scores cleared to leave Tenerife hotel on coronavirus lockdown

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TENERIFE, Spain, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Some 130 guests were cleared on Thursday to leave a Tenerife hotel placed on lockdown after four cases of the coronavirus were detected there, but Spanish authorities did little to allay concerns of the close to 600 tourists who will remain there.

On the third day of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel's lockdown, only the widespread presence of protective masks gave a glimpse of how unreal life has become for those inside the compound.

A video from inside the hotel showed guests sunbathing by one of the swimming pools and others serving themselves at a restaurant buffet. Some, but not all, wore masks, lowering them while eating.

Lara Pennington from Manchester, staying at the hotel with her children and elderly inlaws, said basic safety measures such as wearing masks and washing hands regularly were being ignored.

"There are numerous people who are not adhering to the protocol and therefore the environment outside of our rooms still remains very unsafe for us. We have no intention of leaving our rooms," she said.

Carlota, a volunteer nurse about to enter the hotel, told Reuters: "What we are really afraid of is that other people could be infected. Supposedly in healthy people it is not a deadly virus. We should not have any problem."

A spokesman for the regional government said none of the remaining guests presented any symptoms and they might be cleared before the end of a 14-day isolation period imposed on Wednesday.

"A decision has been made that frees the hotel from the presence of 130 people," he said in televised comments.

Other guests appeared more concerned about being stuck on the hotel grounds.

"Everything is quite surreal, 95% of the situation remains normal here but we feel encapsulated," Christopher Betts, from Leicestershire in England, told Reuters by telephone. "We kill the time by walking around, reading a bit, sitting by the pool."

The hotel, which has said it is cooperating with authorities, did not respond to requests for comment, including on who would ultimately pay for the forced extended vacation.

The holidaymakers' experiences of adjusting to confinement were similar to those who spent two weeks in quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruiseliner off Yokohama, near Tokyo.

Just like for some of those passengers, the view from balcony has become their window on the world, which also appeared less lively.

Most shops nearby shut, as the guests who make up the bulk of their customers were unable to leave the hotel to visit.

The coronavirus can spread via droplets in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes out, and these can also contaminate surfaces such as door handles and railings.

Spain's total number of active coronavirus cases rose to 25 on Thursday from 11, with the bulk of them linked to Italy, hit by Europe's worst outbreak, with over 500 cases and 17 deaths.

The four infected people in the hotel were all Italians. (Additional reporting by Paola Luelmo, Emma Pinedo, Joan Faus in Madrid; Writing by Andrei Khalip; editing by John Stonestreet)

02/27/2020 18:50

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