Furious Britons stuck in coronavirus-hit China have today attacked the Government after it warned all 30,000 UK nationals to leave the country, as it emerged they would be expected to make their own way home.
In a dramatic escalation of its official advice to just avoid China, the Foreign Office is now actively urging people to leave the country in a bid to protect their own health amid fears the coronavirus crisis will continue to escalate.
Despite the US, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan barring foreign travellers from China, the UK is still permitting arrivals from the virus-stricken country.
A direct flight with Air China from Beijing to London Heathrow is just a click away. The government says a team of public health experts are at the London airport to ‘support anyone travelling from China who feels unwell.’
It further advises that anyone who has travelled from the virus-stricken country in the last two weeks should remain indoors and call NHS 111 if they develop symptoms.
The UK’s recent step to order UK nationals to leave China comes as the global death toll from the killer disease today hit 427 with more than 20,000 people infected.
But the announcement sparked an immediate backlash as it emerged all evacuees outside of Wuhan – the city at the centre of the outbreak – must find their own way out, despite many airlines cancelling flights and major cities being sealed off by authorities.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today also warned there will be just one more UK-led evacuation flight. He said people in Wuhan would now be able to instead hitch rides out of the disaster zone on other countries’ planes. Just 100 of 300 British nationals living in Wuhan have been airlifted out so far.
The only two UK airlines serving China – British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – have grounded their flights due to the outbreak. Several others are continuing to operate flights, including Air China, China Southern Airlines, and Shenzhen Airlines.
The global coronavirus situation as it stands is:
- At least 20,706 people are confirmed to have been infected and 427 have died
- 425 deaths have been in China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines
- The Chinese cities of Taizhou, Hangzhou and Ningbo, home to around 12million people, are now in lockdown
- 414 tests have been carried out on people in the UK – just two have returned positive
- Students at the University of Southampton are self-isolating after one fell ill after returning from China
- Twenty-eight countries and territories around the world have confirmed cases
- Belgium today became the latest country to confirm, with one patient in hospital
- The World Health Organization considers the outbreak a global emergency
- A study published yesterday all but confirmed the virus has spread from bats
- At least 30 commercial global airlines have cancelled flights to and from China