Coronavirus latest: Brits told to leave mainland China if they are able

The Government has warned Brits in China to leave because the coronavirus outbreak.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 1:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 4:00 pm

In fresh advice released today, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also warned against all travel to the Hubei Province, the epicentre of the deadly virus's outbreak.

It said "all but essential travel" to the rest of China - but not Hong Kong and Macao - should also be avoided, and added: "If you're in China and able to leave, you should do so.

"The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be at heightened risk".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) with German Health Minister Jens Spahn at the Department of Health, Westminster, London, ahead of a meeting about coordinating their response to the coronavirus. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 4, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Some motorways inside China have been closed by the Government there, while there are also restrictions on the railway, and villages, towns, and cities.

"Some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have announced a suspension of flights to and from mainland China," the Foreign Office added.

"Other commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder to access departure options over the coming weeks."

The Foreign Office changed its travel advice after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he expects more cases of the virus to be diagnosed in the UK.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "We now advise British nationals in China to leave the country if they can, to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus.

"Where there are still British nationals in Hubei Province who wish to be evacuated, we will continue to work around the clock to facilitate this."

It comes as Mr Raab told MPs the Government has been "allocated 14 places on an Air New Zealand flight today for UK nationals and their dependants.

The Foreign Office declined to say how many Brits in Hubei Province have come forward to say they wish to return to the UK, but the last flights out of Wuhan are expected to leave this week.

The updated advice also comes after Mr Hancock said yesterday there were "no plans to evacuate all remaining UK nationals in China".

He told MPs in the Commons: "There's an estimated 30,000 UK nationals in China and the proportion of the population who have the virus outside of Wuhan is much lower than in Wuhan itself."

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

Meanwhile, health officials are trying to trace 239 people who flew from Wuhan to the UK before the travel restrictions associated with coronavirus came into force.

A total of 94 UK nationals and family members have been evacuated to Britain from Wuhan on two flights which arrived on Friday and Saturday.

One passenger was taken to hospital in Oxford after telling medics he had symptoms of a cold and a cough. The rest are in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities said on Tuesday that the death toll in mainland China from the outbreak has risen to 425, with the number of cases now standing at 20,438.

There have also been confirmed cases in a number of countries around the world.