Great Britain

Coronavirus LIVE updates: Thousands quarantined on cruise ship as UK urges British nationals to leave China

Thousands of people on board a cruise ship have been put in quarantine after 10 passengers were confirmed to have coronavirus.

The death toll is now up to 490, with two of those outside of China, and nearly 25,000 cases have been confirmed globally.

The UK government is urging all British nationals who are in mainland China to leave the country.

Efforts continue to repatriate UK nationals who are stuck in Wuhan in the Hubei province where the outbreak began.

The city went into lockdown when the virus broke out leaving thousands of people unable to leave.

A total of 94 UK nationals and family members have already been flown back to Britain from Wuhan on two flights.

They are being held in an accommodation block at Arrowe Park hospital, Wirral, for two weeks to monitor for any symptoms of the virus.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday night: "We have been working round the clock to help British nationals leave Hubei province, on UK, French and New Zealand flights.

"The Foreign Office is chartering a second and final UK flight with space to help all British nationals and their dependants remaining in Hubei to leave.

"I encourage all British nationals in Hubei to register with our teams if they want to leave on this flight."

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Coronavirus in UK

Health officials are also trying to trace 239 people who flew from Wuhan to the UK before travel restrictions came into force.

Meanwhile, two people from the same family in the UK continue to be treated for coronavirus.

The pair had been staying at the StayCity hotel in York, and are now being treated by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in its specialist Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease Centre (HCID).

The Department of Health said that, as of Tuesday, 414 people have tested negative for coronavirus.

All of Manchester Airport's flights to and from mainland China have been suspended.

Scroll down for the latest updates on the coronavirus

FEB 5: Latest update on coronavirus testing in UK

The Department for Health has released its latest update on coronavirus testing in the UK.

There are still only two cases confirmed in the UK.

FEB 5: Second evacuation plane to depart Wuhan on Sunday

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has announced it will charter one more flight to help British nationals leave Wuhan for the UK.

The aircraft is due to leave China in the early hours of Sunday morning (February 9) and will land at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

There will be a small number of medics to provide support to passengers during the flight, the FCO says.

British nationals in Hubei province need to register if they want to leave on the flight by calling +86 (0) 10 8529 6600, or the FCO in London on (+44) (0)207 008 1500.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

“We have been working round the clock to help British nationals leave Hubei province, on UK, French and New Zealand flights.

“The Foreign Office is chartering a second and final UK flight with space to help all British nationals and their dependants remaining in Hubei to leave.

“I encourage all British nationals in Hubei to register with our teams if they want to leave on this flight.”

FEB 5: Thousands quarantined on cruise ship as 10 confirmed to have coronavirus

Ten passengers who were on a cruise ship docked in Japan have tested positive for coronavirus.

Nearly 3,000 passengers have now been put in quarantine on board the Diamond Princess.

The ship was docked in Yokohama Bay after an 80-year-old passenger who left the ship in Hong Kong on January 25 tested positive for coronavirus.

A British couple who are on the ship told reporters that all passengers were tested for the virus on Monday night.

The 10 passengers whose tests came back positive have been taken to hospital while those remaining have been confined to their rooms.

Read the full story here.

FEB 4: Disabled teen dies after carer dad put in quarantine

A disabled boy died after his father was put in quarantine over fears he may have coronavirus.

Yan Cheng, 16, was found dead at his home in the Hubei province a week after his father and brother were both quarantined, the BBC reports.

The teenager, who has cerebral palsy, was reportedly fed only twice during this time, and two Chinese officials have now been removed from their posts following the death.

You can read the full story here.

FEB 4: Brits in quarantine on cruise ship

A British couple who are stuck on a cruise ship in Japan have said it’s like a “ghost town” on board.

The Diamond Princess has been left in limbo in Yokohama Bay, where around 3,000 passengers are awaiting coronavirus tests results before anyone can be allowed to leave.

Japan ordered the ship, owned and operated by Princess Cruises, into quarantine after an 80-year-old passenger who left the ship in Hong Kong on January 25 tested positive for coronavirus.

Quarantine Officials on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in Japan
Quarantine Officials on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in Japan (Image: David Abel)

Officials boarded the ship on Monday night and told passengers they would be running medical checks on everyone, which took from midnight until 7pm local time to complete.

David Abel, who is on board with his wife Sally, said: “I went for a walk around a part of the ship that is normally really busy - the musicians were still out playing, but where there normally would have been crowds of people, I saw maybe 20.

“Even the shopping areas where it would be packed are empty.”

The ship is like a ghost town according to the couple
The ship is like a ghost town according to the couple (Image: David Abel)

The couple, from Oxfordshire, have now decided to self-quarantine in their room, like many of the other passengers.

FEB 4: 'Crucial step' as scientists in UK have fully sequenced the coronavirus viral genome

Scientists at Public Health England have successfully fully sequenced the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV, it was announced today, a “crucial step” in understanding the virus.

The sequencing helps determine how it has developed and interventions to help treat it.

Public Health England said the publication of the sequence provides valuable information on any mutations in the virus over time and allows an improved understanding in how it spreads.

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said he was “proud” that UK scientists are at the forefront of the global research effort - this is a “vital step forward in the international fight against novel coronavirus”.

He said: “By sequencing the virus’s genome we can better understand the roots of the disease, predict its behaviour and learn how to tackle it.”

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “This is a crucial step in helping us understand this virus. Genome sequencing means that we can see where it came from, how it’s developing and determine the interventions that aid treatment.”

She said the data plays “an integral part” in helping the scientific community in “tackling this global problem”.

FEB 4: Latest update on UK cases

The Department for Health has released it latest update on coronavirus cases in the UK. So far 416 tests have been carried out - of which two were confirmed positive. It was revealed on Friday that those two people were members of the same family. They had previously been staying at a hotel in York but are now in quarantine at a facility in Newcastle.

FEB 4: World Health Organisation boss says the 'world is rightly' worried about coronavirus, but there are other threats

The World Health Organisation’s director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the world is “rightly worried about 2019nCoV but we must remember it’s only one of many health threats people are facing.”

He adds that today is World Cancer Day and it is an important moment to raise awareness about the world’s second-leading cause of death and the steps we can take to save lives.

He said 10 million people died from cancer in 2018 globally.

FEB 4: What we have learnt today on the coronavirus outbreak

Here’s a summary of the latest developments today:

FEB 4: All UK nationals in China advised to leave

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged all British nationals in China to leave due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, he said: said: “The safety and security of British people will always be our top priority.

“As such, 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.”

FEB 4: Government announces funding for fast-track vaccine

Infectious disease experts will use £20 million of UK Government funding to embark on an ambitious six-month plan to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

Health Secretary Matthew Hancock on Monday said the Government would plough fresh money into developing a vaccine to combat the deadly global disease.

The UK Government’s £20 million investment will go to CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), a global body aiming to fast-track a vaccine within six to eight months.

CEPI chief executive Dr Richard Hatchett said such a tight timescale was “unprecedented”.

If the biologists are successful, more time would still be required to test the vaccine more widely and secure sign-off from medical regulators before it could be distributed across the world.

“This is an extremely ambitious timeline - indeed, it would be unprecedented in the field of vaccine development,” Dr Hatchett said.

“It is important to remember that even if we are successful - and there can be no guarantee - there will be further challenges to navigate before we can make vaccines more broadly available.”

FEB 4: Latest as a man dies in Hong Kong after being infected with coronavirus

A man has died in Hong Kong after contracting coronavirus, as the authorities in China continue to see a rise in the number of cases.

Medical workers on strike in Hong Kong
Medical workers on strike in Hong Kong (Image: Getty Images)

The 39-year-old man, who had an underlying heart condition, had visited Wuhan city in January, officials said.

It is the second coronavirus-linked death outside of mainland China, after a 44-year-old Chinese man died in the Philippines.

There are 15 confirmed cases in Hong Kong and it has suspended 10 out of its 13 borders crossings with mainland China.

Read more here.

FEB 3: Patients admitted to hospital built in 10 days

The first patients have been admitted to Huoshenshan Hospital on Monday, which was built in just 10 days to combat the outbreak.

With space for 1,000 beds, the hospital was built alongside a second facility featuring another 1,500 beds.

The ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, sent 1,400 doctors, nurses and other personnel to staff the Wuhan hospital, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The treatment centre is the second time Chinese officials have responded to a new disease by building new infrastructure almost overnight.

In 2003, a facility was built in Beijing to deal with the outbreak of Sars - severe acute respiratory syndrome.

(Image: Getty Images)
(Image: Getty Images)
(Image: AP)

FEB 3: No new cases of coronavirus in UK as hundreds test negative

The government has announced that there have been no new cases of coronavirus in the UK, as more than 300 people have tested negative.

Out of the 326 people tested, just two have been positive, the Department of Health and Social Care, said in its daily update at 2pm.

The government said it will continue to publish updates daily at this time.

For more information - visit gov.uk/coronavirus

FEB 3: Briton who felt ill while being evacuated from China says he feels 'fine' now

One of the British nationals who returned from coronavirus-stricken China on Sunday says he now feels “fine” after a cough and sore throat which developed on the flight to the UK led to him being placed in isolation.

Anthony May-Smith is being cared for in Oxford after reporting he felt unwell as the plane flew back to England.

He was on the second evacuation flight carrying 11 British nationals from Wuhan to France then continued its journey to RAF Brize Norton In Oxfordshire.

Mr May-Smith described suffering suffering from “a bit of a cough and a sore throat” in China and he was placed in a quarantine area with approximately 30 other passengers.

He told Sky News that he made himself known to a nurse on the flight and she told him to “sit away from anybody else on the flight.”

He said there were people with babies on the flight and “I obviously just didn’t want to be anywhere near them.

“I feel fine now. I think it’s probably the stress of getting back and being rundown more than anything.

“I am waiting for the test results to come back tomorrow.”

He said it had been “a little bit daunting” when medics enter his room in a face mask, all covered up, wearing four pairs of gloves and wellingtons.

Feb 3: Government updates travel advice to China as a result of coronavirus

The UK government has updated its travel advice as a result of the coronavirus today which says:

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are advising against all but essential travel to the Hubei Province. Anyone travelling to China should remain vigilant and check the latest travel advice on GOV.UK.

We have updated our guidance for individuals who have returned from Wuhan, China as follows:

If you have returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days:

Feb 3: Updated figures on number of coronavirus cases

People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan
People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan (Image: Getty Images)

There are now more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in China, and 361 people have died, according to officials there.

Outside of China, there are more than 150 cases of the virus, and there has been one death in the Philippines.

A group of 93 British nationals who were based in Wuhan province, where the outbreak originated, are currently in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, staying in staff accommodation.

They will be closely monitored for any signs of the illness.

Separately, the Chinese government has accused the United States of causing “panic” in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

It follows the US move to declare a public health emergency and to deny entry to foreign nationals who had visited China in the last fortnight.

Passengers arrive at quarantine facility

Buses carrying 83 Britons who returned to the UK from Wuhan on Friday morning have arrived at a facility on the Wirral.

The convoy travelled from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to Arrowe Park Hospital, where the Britons will be quarantined for 14 days in NHS staff accommodation.

Members of medical staff at the facility are captured wearing face masks.

(Image: PA)
(Image: PA)

Flight suspension hits 'up to 35,000 passengers'

(Image: PA)

Thousands of travellers could be affected by the cancellation of flights to mainland China from UK airlines amid the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, British Airways announced it had cleared all related schedules until the end of February, while Virgin Atlantic on Thursday announced it will suspend flights from Heathrow to Shanghai for 14 days.

Global travel and data analytics firm, Cirium, calculated that the decisions from the two airlines has affected the travel plans for as many as 35,000 passengers.

Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend by Cirium, said:

Cirium data clearly shows the dramatic impact that coronavirus is having, with nearly 10,000 scheduled flights to, from and within China being suspended between January 23 and 28.

While the industry is playing its part to help prevent the spread of the virus, the outbreak will inevitably cause significant disruption of schedules and travel patterns in the short and medium term.

Coaches to be 'deep cleaned'

The coach company that collected British passengers to take them to the quarantine facility in Wirral has said its vehicles will be “deep cleaned.”

Drivers who had agreed to take the job will “remain at home for the next 10 days”.

(Image: PA)

The Horseman Coaches spokesman told the PA news agency:

The Department for Health have procedures in place for the vehicles to be deep cleaned.

That is part of the process of this undertaking, which will happen as soon as the vehicles are clear.

I can give everybody assurance that everything will be cleansed sufficiently.

A statement on the company’s Facebook page said they were contacted by the British Government on Thursday afternoon, adding:

The Department for Health England have very specific procedures regarding the repatriation of these British citizens and the cleansing of vehicles using military grade cleansing equipment and the debriefing of the staff involved.

We have received suitable guarantees from British Government departments regarding the safety of our continued operation.

Rest assured that Horseman Coaches would not have entered into such a contract without the necessary safety guarantees in place.

As an extra precaution Horseman Coaches have decided to take, the drivers involved will take paid leave and remain at home for the next 10 days, and likewise after the cleansing of the vehicles, the vehicles will be removed from service for a minimum of 10 days.

(Image: PA)

The repatriation flight landed at RAF Brize Norton at lunchtime, bringing 83 Brits back to the UK from Wuhan, where the outbreak began.

Photographs show the passengers being transported along the M6 to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral - where they will spend 14 days in quarantine.

'Minimal infection risk'

The hotel in York where two people stayed before being diagnosed with coronavirus poses ‘minimal risk of infection’ to the general public.

A spokesperson from StayCity said:

We have been advised by Public Health England that there is minimal ongoing risk of infection to either guests or staff, and as such our York property remains open for business.

The apartment concerned will undergo a thorough environmental clean and disinfection by a specialist contractor.

Read more here.

Health officials define 'close contact'

The PHE definition of close contact is being within two metres of the infected person for 15 minutes.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at PHE, said:

Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with the confirmed cases.

The two cases were staying in York when they became unwell.

Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed cases.

This tried-and-tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”

Earlier, Prof Peacock said that while staff are working to trace people who have been in contact with the pair, they do not currently have “any idea” of how high that number might be.

'Robust infection control measures in place'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock updated Cabinet ministers on the UK coronavirus outbreak during a meeting in Sunderland.

He assured them “robust infection control measures” were in place. A Downing Street spokesman said:

Cabinet received an update from the Health Secretary on coronavirus, and the robust infection control measures which are in place, following the confirmation of two cases in the UK.

The Foreign Secretary updated Cabinet on the return to the UK of a flight carrying Britons and foreign nationals from China earlier today.

Bus drivers on coronavirus coaches unfazed

The Britons who have arrived back in the UK are now being transported to a hospital in Merseyside for quarantine.

This afternoon, a jet landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, just hours after the UK confirmed its first two coronavirus cases.

After touching down just before 1.30pm UK time, the British passengers were being taken by bus to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, where they will spend the next fortnight.

However bus drivers on the coaches looked completely unfazed by the presence of specialists in full hazmat suits sat behind them.

A person in a protective suit is seen sitting behind the driver of one of the coaches
A person in a protective suit is seen sitting behind the driver of one of the coaches (Image: Getty Images)
Coaches leave Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, carrying passengers from the plane
Coaches leave Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, carrying passengers from the plane (Image: PA)

First two UK cases confirmed as York hotel guests

The first two cases of coronavirus in the UK have been confirmed as guests who stayed in a hotel in York.

Health officials are urgently trying to trace those who came into contact with the two people who had taken ill.

The pair are being treated by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in its specialist Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease Centre (HCID).

It has now been confirmed that they had been staying at StayCity in York.

Read more here.

A view of the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York, after the apartment-hotel was put on lockdown on Wednesday night, when a man, understood to be a Chinese national, who was a guest at the facilit...

Nurse speaks of 'panic' at Arrowe Park Hospital as news of quarantined patients broke

A nurse at Arrowe Park Hospital has described scenes of ‘panic’ as many staff members found out from the news that Brits returning from coronavirus stricken Wuhan would be quarantined there.

Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside prepare for a bus carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China
Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside prepare for a bus carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

On Thursday night, government officials said an evacuation flight from China was due to land at RAF Brize Norton on Friday, reports the Echo.

The passengers will then be transferred to Arrowe Park under police escort, where they will be quarantined in a staff accommodation block.

And a nurse at the hospital said the news had not down well.

“Most heard it one the news first which is terrible, panic is the word I would use,” the nurse said.

“At least warn your staff before the news, also the Wirral population are worried also.

Read more here

PHE update on coronavirus tests in UK

A total of 177 patients have now been tested for coronavirus in the UK - only two have come back positive.

Union says health of staff at Arrowe Park Hospital 'needs to be top priority'

The welfare of health staff at Arrowe Park hospital, Wirral, where those travelling from China are being quarantined because the coronavirus, needs to be a top priority, according to the union Unite.

The union has more than 1,000 members at the Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which includes the hospital.

A fire engine arrives at Arrowe Park Hospital
A fire engine arrives at Arrowe Park Hospital (Image: PA)

Unite regional officer, Derek Jones, said: “The unions were briefed on the situation by the NHS management today as the welfare of our members working at the hospital is a prime concern.

“It should be remembered that those who are being quarantined are British nationals who left Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak in China, and are entitled to the excellent care that the health service can provide.

“Staff at the hospital will not be asked to treat those who are being quarantined, as this is being dealt with centrally by the Department of Health and Social Care.”

He added that “should any of those at Arrowe Park develop symptoms associated with the virus”, they will be “transferred to the world-renowned Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which is highly specialised to care for such cases”.

Flight carrying Brits from Wuhan has landed

The flight carrying 83 Brits who were staying in and around Wuhan has just touched down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

They will now be taken by coach to an accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

The flight is due to continue onto Spain to drop off the rest of the passengers.

How to protect yourself from coronavirus

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself.

The best way is to obviously avoid being exposed to the virus.

The Wuhan virus is a new illness and scientists are still assessing how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses tend to spread via coughs or if droplets land on surfaces such as desks in schools or seats on trains or buses.

Here’s what you need to know.