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Final UK flight from Wuhan to bring home Britons from coronavirus epicenter

Published on 05/02/20 at 11:33am

The last flight from Wuhan will arrive back in the UK on Sunday, bringing back British nationals fleeing from the coronavirus outbreak.

The chartered flight will leave early Sunday and land at RAF Brize Norton. This is where previous flights have landed, and Britons from China have gone on to be quarantined for 14 days.

More than 100 UK nationals and family members have already been evacuated from Wuhan. All of the Britons are now in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral to ensure they are not infected.

165 Britons are still reported to remain in Hubei province and 108 of them have asked the Foreign Office for help.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb, commenting on the situation, 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.”

490 people have died from the disease and there have been 24,300 reported cases of coronavirus. Today, 10 people on board a cruise ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama have tested positive for the virus, with the 3,400 other passengers being at risk.

The coronavirus outbreak began on 12 December and the disease is thought to come from animal products. Currently known as 2019-nCoV, the virus is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans. It has been categorised as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

This episode is reminiscent of the SARS epidemic in 2003 that spread to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada; it killed 774 people and infected over 8,000. Chinese scientists reported that they had generated the genetic sequence of the new virus and it is a coronavirus that is in the same group as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus).

Conor Kavanagh

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