The United States government is planning to evacuate citizens from the coronavirus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan.
The US is arranging a charter flight on Sunday to bring its citizens and diplomats back from Wuhan.
The city, which has a population of around 11 million, is considered the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and has been placed effectively placed on lockdown since Thursday.
Roughly 1,000 American citizens are thought to be in Wuhan.
So far a Boeing 767 jet, which carries around 230 people, has been organized to carry diplomats from the US consulate as well as US citizens and their families, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the operation.
It is understood medical personnel will be on the flight to care for anyone who may have been infected by the virus and prevent it from spreading.
Washington was given approval for the operation from China’s Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days.
The US also plans to temporarily shut its Wuhan consulate, it said.
The UK has a consulate in Wuhan and it is not yet clear whether Britain and other countries will take similar steps to evacuate their citizens from the city.
In response to a request for comment from MailOnline, the Foreign Office said: ‘We are monitoring the situation in China very closely. If there are any developments, this will be updated via FCO travel advice on GOV.UK.’
It comes as the death toll for the coronavirus in China rose to 41 on Saturday.
More than 1,300 people have been infected globally with the virus traced to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife.
Thirteen Chinese cities, home to around 40million people, are reported to have followed Wuhan’s example and gone into some form of lockdown in the past 24 hours with public transport halted and roads closed.
A man living in Wuhan yesterday told MailOnline people there are ‘all trapped’ and and he fears he and his family will become infected if they aren’t allowed to leave the city.