Coronavirus: British Nationals Spend First Night In Quarantine

Eighty-three British nationals landed at RAF Brize Norton on Friday before being transported to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral.

British evacuees who returned from the city believed to be at the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak have spent their first night in quarantine, with one describing the accommodation as "perfectly nice".

It comes as the first two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK - one of whom is a student at the University of York.

Both have been taken to a specialist facility in Newcastle for treatment.

An aircraft carrying 110 British and foreign nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan arrived in the UK on Friday, landing at RAF Brize Norton at around 13:30 UK time.

The evacuation flight was organised by the Foreign Office following the outbreak of the virus.

After several delays, the plane took off in Wuhan at 9:45 local time (1:45 UK time), carrying 83 Brits and 27 non-UK nationals, mostly from EU countries.

Following their arrival at Brize Norton, passengers were taken by bus to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, where they will spend two weeks in quarantine.

In a video blog from inside his room Matt Raw told the Guardian: "They’ve actually put a bag here containing various essentials that we might need – underwear and things that people might not have had time to pack."

Food, laundry facilities, and access to medical staff and the internet have been made available to the evacuees.

The military medics on board will also spend a fortnight in quarantine, but at a different location.

Chinese military medics working in Wuhan following Coronavirus outbreak 290120 CREDIT REUTERS NO RE USE AFTER 30 DAYS.jpg
Chinese military medics working in Wuhan following the Coronavirus outbreak (Picture: Reuters).

The Foreign Office has said it is withdrawing some of its staff from China, and that essential employees are staying for "critical work" but its capacity to assist stranded Britons there may be "limited".

On Friday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said that another plane will be sent to the region if necessary.

It is also understood that the Foreign Office is collaborating with EU countries to add British passengers to any other rescue flights they may charter back from Wuhan.

"We will do everything we can to ensure that every UK citizen, every UK national, every member of their family is contacted, supported," Mr Gove said.

"If we need to, we will send another plane."

One Briton in Wuhan says he fears being left stranded after deciding he could not leave his wife behind.

Chris Hill, 38, from Sunderland told PA: "My wife is a nurse and is not able to get the time off and will not abandon her parents. I am not willing to leave her behind and take my daughter. It’s either we all go or we all stay in Wuhan."

The evacuation flight came after the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers raised the risk level of the illness from low to moderate and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an international public health emergency.

Chinese health officials said on Friday morning that the death toll in the country from the virus had risen to 213, up from 170 a day earlier, with the number of known cases rising from 7,711 to 9,692.

No deaths have occurred outside China, although 82 cases have been confirmed across 18 countries.

The British passengers on the evacuation flight, who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, had to sign a contract agreeing to isolation before they could board the flight, and underwent temperature checks.

Anyone with suspicious symptoms will be taken to the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital.