Eight people affiliated with the UAE Tour race – among them two Russians – have now been confirmed to have the illness, according to UAE health officials, with the initial two cases triggering the cancellation of the final leg of the event last week, as well as the quarantine of some 600 riders and staff at two hotels in Abu Dhabi.

Though the majority were granted permission to leave on Saturday, after a number of tests for the virus came up negative, 50 people remain in lockdown – including 18 riders – prompting one French team manager to vow a hunger strike if the quarantine isn’t lifted.

“I believe that we have now passed the limit of decency, albeit in the name of public health and the danger of contamination,” said Roberto Damiani, sporting director of France’s Cofidis team, in an open letter sent to an Italian media outlet, adding that he and his team have all tested negative at least twice.

While Damiani says he places no blame on race organizers, who are “doing everything to solve the problem,” he noted that his team’s rooms have not been cleaned and that “heaps of rubbish” are piling up in the hotel corridor.

I inform you that if in the next few hours the situation does not unlock, I will start a hunger strike to defend at least the racers and the staff for whom I am directly responsible for this race.

In addition to Cofidis, the French Groupama-FDJ team, Russia’s Gazprom team and a number of tourists remain quarantined on the fourth floor of Abu Dhabi’s Crowne Plaza hotel.

The six new patients confirmed on Tuesday “include two Russians, two Italians, one German and one Colombian,” the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said in a statement, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 27.

The ministry noted that “individuals currently quarantined will be re-examined and tested for the virus to ensure their utmost safety,” though did not indicate how long that could take.

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