Japan and the US have airlifted hundreds of their citizens from the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose again to 132.
Confirmed cases of the virus also rose sharply to nearly 6,000 on Wednesday morning, overtaking the 5,327 confirmed cases of SARS during the 2002-2003 outbreak which killed more than 750 people in 17 countries worldwide.
The evacuations came as the UK government worked to finalise plans overnight to bring Britons back from Wuhan, with flights back to the UK potentially taking place as early as Thursday.
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British Airways suspends all flights to mainland China
There is also some breaking news this morning as British Airways has announced it is suspending all direct flights to and from mainland China over growing concerns about the outbreak.
The airline’s website shows no direct flights to China are available for January or February.
“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
You can find more details on the story from our reporter Chris Baynes by clicking the link below:
UK finalises plans to bring Britons back from virus-hit area
Urgent plans to bring Britons back from the Chinese province of Hubei, where the new strain of coronavirus was first identified, are being finalised by the UK government this morning.
The deadline for those stuck in the city of Wuhan and its surrounding areas to contact the British consulate passed last night at 3am UK time (11am local time).
Flights taking Britons back home could begin as early as Thursday, according to a British teacher in Wuhan city who told PA that UK citizens were being given details of forthcoming flights.
The news came after the Foreign Office updated its advice on Tuesday to warn against “all but essential travel” to mainland China, as it may become more difficult for British nationals in other provinces to leave the country.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said 97 people in the UK have been tested for the virus so far and all patients have been given the all-clear.
Additional reporting by PA
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