Health

Coronavirus: Final UK flight to bring home Britons from Wuhan

Repatriation flight from Wuhan landing at RAF Brize NortonImage copyright
Ministry of Defence

Image caption

Dozens of Britons flown home from the centre of the outbreak last week have been aken into quarantine

The UK government is chartering a final flight to bring British nationals back from the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.

The plane will leave in the early hours of Sunday morning and land at RAF Brize Norton, the Foreign Office said.

It comes as Britons in mainland China have been urged to leave the country after the outbreak claimed more lives.

More than 100 UK nationals and family members have already been evacuated to Britain from Wuhan.

About 165 Britons are reported to remain in Hubei province, where the outbreak began, and 108 are believed to have asked the Foreign Office for help to leave.

At least 427 people have died after contracting the virus and there have been more than 20,000 confirmed cases, most of them in China.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We have been working round the clock to help British nationals leave Hubei province, on UK, French and New Zealand flights.

“The Foreign Office is chartering a second and final UK flight with space to help all British nationals and their dependants remaining in Hubei to leave.

“I encourage all British nationals in Hubei to register with our teams if they want to leave on this flight.”

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

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Passengers on a plane in Shanghai

On Friday, 83 UK citizens were repatriated on a flight out of Wuhan arranged by the UK government. Another 11 Britons joined them on Sunday on the French flight.

A further eight UK nationals and six of their family members left China on a flight to New Zealand on Tuesday.

It has since emerged that a Belgian woman who was on Sunday’s flight tested positive for the virus.

All but one of the Britons are now in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral for 14 days – the incubation period of the virus – to ensure they are not infected.

Anthony May-Smith has been taken to hospital in Oxford to be tested for potential coronavirus.

Two people, a student at the University of York and one of their relatives, are being treated for coronavirus at the specialist infectious diseases unit at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary.

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Meanwhile, one British man in China, who fears he contracted the virus in November, said he had been given no indication of when he will be able to leave Wuhan.

Jamie Morris, 23, from Tredegar in South Wales, said he had not been able to return on recent flights because he had given his passport to Chinese authorities to extend his residency permit.

“I am currently on my own in my apartment, isolated from the outside world,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Office advised Britons to leave China to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

The UK is also moving non-essential staff out from its embassy and consulates in China.

The only two UK airlines serving China – British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – have suspended their flights between the countries because of fears about the spread of the virus.

But other commercial flights to the UK remain available in some parts of China.

Image copyright
Reuters

The virus has now spread to more than two dozen nations.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it does not yet qualify as a “pandemic”.


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