Health

Coronavirus UK latest: Brits stranded in China set be flown home tomorrow and isolated for 14 days



Britons stranded in a coronavirus-hit city in China are set be flown home tomorrow and isolated for two weeks, possibly in a military barracks, to stop the killer infection spreading in the UK. 

The repatriation plane, which is due to leave Wuhan early tomorrow morning, may fly straight to a military base in the UK.

The pilots, attendants and medics will be issued with protective equipment to stop them being struck down by the virus.


Evacuees will have to agree to be isolated for two weeks, the incubation period for the virus, or will be banned from boarding the Government-chartered plane.

They will also undergo a health check and will not be able to board if they are displaying any coronavirus symptoms.

Passengers wear face masks as the push their luggage after arriving from a flight at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport (AFP via Getty Images)

A Government source said: “We are working hard to get British nationals back from Wuhan, but public safety is the top priority and we aren’t taking any chances. 

“Anyone we bring back will be isolated for 14 days. If they don’t want to be quarantined then they can stay in Wuhan.”

The returnees will be quarantined in a secure facility, possibly a military base, for the 14-day incubation period, whether they are showing symptoms or not. 

They will be cared for, offered any necessary medical attention, but will be kept isolated.

The stringent measures were ordered as health chiefs have become alarmed at how quickly the infection is spreading in China, with a small number of cases in other countries as well.

As the crisis grew, British Airways this morning cancelled flights in and out of China sparking fears that thousands of UK citizens on holiday or work visits there may struggle to get home easily.

Coronavirus: Foreign Office warns against travel to China as UK nationals are set to return

The airline acted after the Foreign Office last night warned against all but essential travel to the whole of mainland China.

The new coronavirus strain, known as “2019-nCoV”, is so far less deadly than SARS which killed more than 770 people globally in the early 2000s, including 349 in mainland China.

But it is believed to be spreading more quickly, with the number of cases confirmed in mainland China soaring to nearly 6,000, more than the 5,327 SARS cases which happened in the country.

Foreign governments are now racing to repatriate their citizens from the Hubei province which is at the heart of the growing coronavirus crisis.

The British plane, with a doctor on board, was due to leave the UK mid-afternoon for the 5,512 miles to Wuhan which was the first of several cities put into lockdown by the Chinese authorities.

Around 250 Britons are believed to have been in Hubei but it was not clear how many of them wanted to get on the evacuation flight, which could leave around 7am local time.

The Government also faced the challenged of how to repatriate British citizens if air routes are shut down and there is a surge of foreigners seeking to get out of China.

Cabinet minister Baroness Morgan stressed the Government had experience of major repatriations to “get people home as quickly as we can.” 



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