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From a Romanian castle to a planetarium, unlikely quarantine sites

by Sonia Elks and Amber Milne | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 29 May 2020 17:23 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: General view of Peles castle in the Carpathian mountain resort of Sinaia, 121 km (75 miles) north of Bucharest, in this November 12, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel/Files (ROMANIA)

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As officials scramble to contain suspected COVID-19 cases, some unexpected spaces are being turned into quarantine camps

By Sonia Elks and Amber Milne

LONDON, May 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has left countries struggling to find space to quarantine individuals, including those returning from overseas, the homeless and people who are unwell but don't require hospitalisation.

From a racecourse in India to military bases in Brazil, here are some unexpected places being used or earmarked as quarantine sites:


Romania's royal family offered up 53 spaces in the Neo-Renaissance Peles Castle near the Carpathian mountain resort of Sinaia for people under quarantine orders. 


As India struggles with an influx of cases, it has turned the landmark Nehru Planetarium, a favourite day trip for school children, into a quarantine facility.


Sprawling stadiums left empty by lockdown measures have been re-purposed to quarantine patients in countries including China, the Philippines and Wales.


The Mahalaxmi Racecourse in South Mumbai, which hosts India's top horse-racing event, is also among the top attractions turned to makeshift facilities by authorities. 


The Hong Kong Disneyland resort, already closed because of the virus, was proposed as a potential site by a lawmaker representing the tourism sector. It later agreed to lease a vacant plot of land to officials to build a quarantine facility.


Some Russians with suspected cases of coronavirus have been sent to Siberia to wait out their isolation in a Soviet-style sanatorium health resorts. Residents were confined to their rooms and the resort exits guarded by riot police.


Others enjoyed a taste of luxury with quarantines in luxury hotels. In Singapore, people checked in by authorities have been offered room service, laundry facilities and personal shopping services to keep them fed and entertained. 


However, some have reported they were stuck in cramped or squalid conditions. In Pakistan, some people said they were forced to share tents during quarantines. 


Army bases have been widely pressed into use to house people feared to have been infected in countries ranging from Brazil to Indonesia and the United States.


Australians returning from hot spots have been quarantined at Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean 1,500 km (900 miles) from the mainland. The island is a beautiful spot - but evacuees have spent their quarantine in an asylum detention centre. 

Sources: Romanian royal family, Hong Kong Disneyland resort, South China Morning Post newspaper

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From luxury hotels to camps, coronavirus quarantine varies across Asia 

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(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Tom Finn. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.