/Coronavirus – Brits board last flight from Wuhan ready for two-week quarantine but others furious as they’re l

Coronavirus – Brits board last flight from Wuhan ready for two-week quarantine but others furious as they’re l

BRITS today boarded a rescue flight from Coronavirus-hit Wuhan and headed for a two-week quarantine on the Wirral but others are furious they’ve been left behind.

Some passengers posted selfies at Wuhan airport and on board the rescue plane which is expected to land in the UK at RAF Brize Norton at about 10.45am.

 Patrick Graham shared a selfie saying he had been awake for 24 hours and was now off to a 14-day quarantine

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Patrick Graham shared a selfie saying he had been awake for 24 hours and was now off to a 14-day quarantineCredit: Instagram
 Ben Kavanagh's selfie showed rows of empty seats

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Ben Kavanagh’s selfie showed rows of empty seatsCredit: Instagram
 Medics in Hazmat suits at Wuhan airport on Thursday

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Medics in Hazmat suits at Wuhan airport on ThursdayCredit: Instagram

Brits on the rescue flight include Patrick Graham and Ben Kavanagh who posted Instagram pictures of themselves wearing masks as they arrived at the airport and boarded the flight.

Mr Kavanagh, a psychology teacher from Kilcullen in Co Kildare, Ireland, was one of the first on board the aircraft and shared a selfie from the empty plane with the caption: “Group selfie of me and my friends.”

He had been working as a teacher in Wuhan and had lived there for almost two years.

Mr Graham also shared a selfie with the caption: “Been awake for 24 hours… off to an isolation centre somewhere in Merseyside for 14 days. Fair to say 2020 has started with a bang!”

He shared another photo of the deserted Wuhan terminal and said: “He’s going home… he’s going home. he’s going.”

It comes as the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a global health emergency on an unprecedented scale.

The death toll for the virus has now hit 212 with around 8,000 people affected by the outbreak.

The plane is carrying around 150 Brits who were stranded in Wuhan to the RAF base before they’re taken by bus to their quarantine accommodation at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside.

 Ben Kavanagh is one of the Brits on the repatriation flight from Wuhan

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Ben Kavanagh is one of the Brits on the repatriation flight from WuhanCredit: Instagram
 Welshman Patrick Graham showed pictures of people queuing up at the airport

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Welshman Patrick Graham showed pictures of people queuing up at the airportCredit: Instagram
 French citizens arrive and settle aboard an evacuation plane heading to southeastern France

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French citizens arrive and settle aboard an evacuation plane heading to southeastern FranceCredit: AFP or licensors
 Pictures posted on social media by Emily Xiao seem to show buses getting ready to take Brits to Wuhan Tianhe Airport

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Pictures posted on social media by Emily Xiao seem to show buses getting ready to take Brits to Wuhan Tianhe AirportCredit: Instagram

Around 50 EU citizens will also be on the flight and it’s expected they’ll be dropped off in Spain after the flight lands in Britain.

Some Brits say they’ll remain stranded as they were given just two hours to get to the airport, while others have decided to stay because their dual-national relatives have been told they cannot be rescued.

Chris Hill, a 38-year-old British citizen who lives in Wuhan, had to make the difficult decision to refuse a repatriation flight because officials could not confirm whether his wife and four-year-old daughter, Renee, would be allowed to board.

He told the Evening Standard: “I told them immediately, I said ‘Oh OK so you cannot confirm in any way that they could travel with me’ and they said ‘we’re trying our best but we can’t guarantee anything,’ so I said ‘No, I’m not going’.

“With the current situation and the way the FCO is handling the diplomatic side of things, I’m just losing faith.”


What we know about coronavirus so far…


Anthony May-Smith, who had his bags packed for days, told Sky News he had just two hours to get to the meeting point and was not able to make the rescue flight.

He said: “There’s a complete transport ban in the city.

“I’ve said this to them every time I’ve spoken to them and asked them what they can do to help, and every time, always ‘make your own way there’.

“It’s literally impossible to get there.”

He added: “There’s no cars, there’s no taxis, anything, and the FCO say, ‘Oh we’ll pick you up from Wuhan Tianhe airport but you have to make your own way there’.

“That gives me a very bad taste in my mouth. It’s just bad planning.”

Adam Bridgeman, 33, had been hoping to evacuate China with his wife Su, 32, and four-week-old baby Austin.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Adam, from London, said: “I wasn’t sure if we were going to board the plane anyway – they said my wife couldn’t board the plane because she’s a Chinese national.

“They were unable to confirm if my son could have been able to board.

“We were thinking I could go with my son and leave my wife here – but separating a mother from her newborn baby wasn’t really something we were willing to do.”

RESCUE FLIGHT

Three military medics and Public Health England (PHE) officials will be on board, but it will be crewed by civilians.

The nearby Royal Liverpool Hospital is one of four high consequence infectious diseases treatment centres in England.

It comes as health bosses confirmed 161 coronavirus tests have been carried out in the UK – all have come back negative.

More than 200 British citizens are currently trapped in the sealed-off city, dubbed zombieland, as the death toll hit 212 – with infections reaching around 8,000.

In a statement earlier on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed a rescue flight had been given the go-ahead.

He added: “The safety and security of British nationals is our top priority.

“Our Embassy in Beijing and consular teams remain in close contact with British nationals in the region to ensure they have the latest information they need.”

Speaking at a Policy Exchange event in Westminster earlier, Mr Raab said officials in the Foreign Office had “been working tirelessly” to get citizens out of Wuhan.

He added: “We’ve been working with the Department of Health flat out, 24/7, to try and make sure we can identify British nationals in Wuhan, get them to a muster point and get them to a flight, a chartered flight in and out.”

Flight blocked

Officials had been working to secure a flight out of Wuhan for British nationals after one planned for Thursday failed to get clearance from Chinese authorities.

 More people are becoming infected with the new bug

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More people are becoming infected with the new bugCredit: EPA
 Experts in China carry out work on a new coronavirus nucleic acid detection kit

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Experts in China carry out work on a new coronavirus nucleic acid detection kitCredit: EPA

Ghost town

Wuhan is currently a ghost town, with many staying indoors as experts warned the deadly bug will become a worldwide pandemic if governments do not impose heavy global travel bans.

And passengers say they have been told only to take hand luggage on the flight.

Jeff Siddle, from Northumberland, told the BBC his family faced a “terrible dilemma” after he and his nine-year-old daughter were told they could fly back – but not his Chinese wife, who has a permanent residency visa fr the UK.

Cases soar

India confirmed its first case on Thursday, as did the Philippines.

In the UK, 161 people have tested negative for the virus as of Thursday.

Of 1,466 passengers and 95 staff who arrived in the UK from Wuhan between January 10 and 24, some 162 have already left the UK and 760 are now outside the 14-day incubation period for the virus.

 People like Chris have had to make hard decisions about whether they will split their family to escape Wuhan

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People like Chris have had to make hard decisions about whether they will split their family to escape WuhanCredit: PA:Press Association
 Adam said he did not want to leave his wife behind in China
Adam said he did not want to leave his wife behind in China
 Chris Hill refuses to leave Wuhan without his daughter

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Chris Hill refuses to leave Wuhan without his daughterCredit: PA:Press Association
 The Foreign Office said it could not guarantee dual nationals like Chris' daughter and wife, would be allowed to travel

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The Foreign Office said it could not guarantee dual nationals like Chris’ daughter and wife, would be allowed to travelCredit: PA:Press Association
 Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UK

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Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UKCredit: PA:Press Association

Meanwhile, the Government has advised against “all but essential” travel to mainland China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

British Airways has halted all its flights to and from mainland China until Monday.

Virgin Atlantic flights between Heathrow and Shanghai are continuing to operate as scheduled.

Where did coronavirus start? From bats to snakes – the theories on deadly virus’ origins

The killer coronavirus was spread from bats to snakes to humans, experts have claimed.

An outbreak of the virus is understood to have started at an open air fish market in the Chinese city of Wuhan – which has since been put in lockdown after 25 people died and more than 600 people were infected globally.

A new study published in the China Science Bulletin this week claimed that the new coronavirus shared a strain of virus found in bats.

Previous deadly outbreaks of SARS and Ebola were also believed to have originated in the flying mammal.

Experts had thought the new virus wasn’t capable of causing an epidemic as serious as those outbreaks because its genes were different.

But this latest research appeared to prove otherwise – as scientists scrabble to produce a vaccine.

In a statement, the researchers said: “The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats … but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.”

Meanwhile, scientists at Peking University also claim that the deadly virus was passed to humans from bats – but say it was through a mutation in snakes.

The researchers said that the new strain is made up of a combination of one that affects bats and another unknown coronavirus.

They believe that combined genetic material from both bats and this unknown strain picked up a protein that allows viruses bind to certain host cells – including those of humans.

After analysing the genes of the strains the team found that snakes were susceptible to the most similar version of the coronavirus.

It meant that they likely provided a “reservoir” for the viral strain to grow stronger and replicate.

Snakes are sold at the Huanan Seafood Market in central Wuhan and may have jumped to other animals before passing to humans, they claim.

But a senior researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, who asked not to be named, said the findings should be treated with caution.

He told the South China Morning Post: “It is based on calculation by a computer model.

“Whether it will match what happens in real life is inconclusive.

“The binding protein is important, but it is just one of the many things under investigation. There may be other proteins involved.”

The expert believes that the new strain was an RNA virus, meaning that its mutation speed was 100 times faster than that of a DNA virus such as smallpox.

Also on Thursday, an apartment-hotel in Yorkshire was put on lockdown after a man, believed to be a Chinese national, was taken to hospital after falling ill.

The man, who was a guest at the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York, was taken to hospital by medics on Wednesday night.

Paramedics wearing special protective clothing entered the hotel, near the city’s Barbican theatre.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “Staycity Group have confirmed that a man, believed to be a Chinese national, staying at the group’s property in York was taken ill yesterday and is understood to be undergoing tests at a local hospital.

“Paramedics accompanied the man, along with his two travelling companions, out of the property at around 7.50pm last night.

“Following advice from Public Health England we have been advised that the risk is absolutely minimal and that nothing has been confirmed thus far.

“The health and safety of our guests and staff are paramount and as such the apartment containing the group’s belongings has been sealed off, after which it will undergo a thorough environmental clean and disinfection, as is company policy.”

 Members of the medical team of the Second Military Medical University treating a patient at Hankou Hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province

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Members of the medical team of the Second Military Medical University treating a patient at Hankou Hospital in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei ProvinceCredit: Rex Features
 A charter flight carried about 200 Americans from China to California this week during the virus scare
A charter flight carried about 200 Americans from China to California this week during the virus scareCredit: EPA
 This terrifying map pinpoints new outbreaks when and where they happen - in real time

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This terrifying map pinpoints new outbreaks when and where they happen – in real time
 Medics in hazmat suits at Wuhan airport as Brits are preparing to evacuate

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Medics in hazmat suits at Wuhan airport as Brits are preparing to evacuateCredit: Instagram
Brits flocking to pharmacies in London to get their hands on face masks and hand sanitiser – but experts say they’re ineffective against coronavirus
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