| 15.5°C Belfast

Cheltenham confirms first coronavirus case as thousands descend for racing festival

Close

Grounds staff cut the grass ahead of the Cheltenham Festival

Grounds staff cut the grass ahead of the Cheltenham Festival

PA

Grounds staff cut the grass ahead of the Cheltenham Festival

The Gloucestershire town of Cheltenham has just had its first confirmed case of the Coronavirus as thousands of Irish race-goers begin their annual pilgrimage to the annual festival.

The case was confirmed as the third case in the county by the Chief Medical Officer. It now brings the total number of Covid-19 cases reported in the UK to 278.

This morning saw the first batch of race-goers flying out of Irish airports, with around 15,000 people from these shores making the trip every year for the four-day festival.

A Cheltenham Racecourse spokesperson has said that it will be "business as usual" but has issued a number of guidelines for anyone attending the large-scale event.

Culminating in one of racing’s most prestigious races, the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, it usually attracts around 250,000 spectators every year over the course of the week.

Officials are advising racegoers to stay away if they are experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus, have travelled through high-risk countries or been in contact with anyone who has.

They have laid on extra staff for the week to make sure all toilet areas are in constant supply of soap. Anti-bacterial hand gel will be made available and additional handwashing locations have been put in place.

Racegoers have been advised to follow public health advice and practice good hygiene at the event.

"At Cheltenham Racecourse, the safety and welfare of racegoers and participants is paramount," said a spokesperson.

"We welcome the government's guidance that the business of the country should continue as usual, while ensuring we adhere to the latest public health advice."

Belfast Telegraph