Coronavirus: Foreign Office tells Britons to leave China

Some 26 people have been tested for the virus in Scotland but none have been positive.

Coronavirus.
Coronavirus.

Britons have been advised to leave mainland China as coronavirus continues to claim lives in the country.

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

The death toll in China has risen to 425, with the number of cases now standing at 20,438.

In Scotland, 26 people have been tested for the virus but none have been positive.

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In the rest of the UK, two people continue to be treated for coronavirus in the specialist infectious diseases unit at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary.

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.”

The Foreign Office said commercial flights departing China were available throughout the country, except in Hubei where virus originated.

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Mr Raab told MPs the Government has been “allocated 14 places on an Air New Zealand fight today for UK nationals and their dependants”.

The Foreign Office has declined to say how many British nationals in Hubei province wish to return to the UK – but the last flights out of Wuhan are expected to leave this week.

The updated Foreign Office advice comes after Mr Hancock said on Monday there were “no plans to evacuate all remaining UK nationals in China”.

On Tuesday, Mr Hancock met with German health minister Jens Spahn.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Hancock said: “We haven’t seen the peak of the coronavirus by a long stretch and we expect more cases in the UK.

“We have a full plan in place to treat all those who have symptoms and test positively for coronavirus and we are working with international partners both to slow the spread and also to do the research that we need to do to find a vaccine.”

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

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

One passenger was taken to hospital in Oxford after telling medics he had symptoms of a cough and a cold.

The rest of those who came back are currently in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

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