Great Britain

Coronavirus: Hundreds of Britons trapped in Wuhan 'to be flown home on Thursday'

Hundreds of British citizens trapped in the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan are expected to be flown home as early as Thursday.

The Foreign Office has yet to confirm any details of how and when they will be evacuated, however a British teacher living in Wuhan has revealed UK citizens are being given details of forthcoming flights.

Those stuck in Wuhan and surrounding areas have been urged to contact the British consulate before 11am on Wednesday if they wish to leave.

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The British embassy in Beijing has said transport to get UK citizens out “may happen quickly and with short notice”.

Officials have estimated up to 200 citizens currently there will want to return to the UK.

The British teacher, who asked not to be named, said she had decided to stay put because she was informed her husband, who has a UK visa, would not be allowed to travel since he is a Chinese national.

It is understood this was a result of restrictions imposed by China, rather than the UK.

She added that a number of other Britons she was in contact with had arranged to return home, with some scheduled on a flight at 7am on Thursday.

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice to warn against “all but essential travel” to mainland China.

It advised British citizens wishing to leave the country to make plans to do so soon as it “may become harder over the coming weeks”.

Almost 100 people in the UK have so far tested negative for coronavirus.

The Department of Health and Social Care said 97 people have been given the all-clear for the virus, although scientists predict it may have entered the country.

Earlier, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the government was “working on” how to bring people home from Wuhan.

He told BBC Breakfast: “For anybody who is there, one of the issues we have, working with our partners internationally on this, is actually identifying how many British citizens there are in Wuhan.

“One of the things we’re asking people to do is to contact the consulate there to make them aware. People have started to do that.

“We are working on arrangements as well.”

Hubei province, where the virus is thought to have originated in Wuhan city, has been on lockdown for several days as China seeks to contain the illness, as have other parts of China.

Hong Kong also said on Tuesday it would “temporarily” close some of its borders with mainland China and stop issuing travel permits to mainland Chinese tourists.

More than 100 people have now died in the country, with confirmed infections surging to more than 4,500.

Additional reporting by Press Association