UK

Coronavirus: Britons evacuated from Wuhan arrive at quarantine facility

A convoy of coaches carrying British evacuees from Wuhan travel Image copyright Leon Neal/Getty Images
Image caption Coaches carrying British evacuees from Wuhan were escorted by police and ambulances as they left RAF Brize Norton for Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral

Britons evacuated from coronavirus-hit Wuhan have arrived at a hospital in the Wirral where they will spend the next 14 days in quarantine.

A convoy of coaches arrived at Arrowe Park Hospital shortly after 19:15 GMT.

Eighty-three Britons were transported from RAF Brize Norton, where their evacuation flight from Wuhan landed.

It comes as officials urgently try to trace those who came into contact with two people diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK.

The British passengers are being housed in an NHS staff accommodation block at the Merseyside hospital, where they will be put in "supported isolation" for 14 days with "all necessary medical attention".

Six coaches were led by a police escort to the rear of the hospital and on to a side road leading to the accommodation block.

Patients disembarked from behind barriers covering the accommodation entrance, but some could be seen inside wearing masks as they walked upstairs to their rooms for the next fortnight.

'Mellow' mood on flight

Ben Williams had to leave his new Chinese wife behind after being given short notice to get to the evacuation plane.

The flight was delayed by around three hours to allow as many UK and EU citizens as possible to get to the airport on time amid a suspension of the city's public transport.

Mr Williams, who married his new wife in Wuhan and was honeymooning there, said: "By the time we got out the door it was very much a close call to get to the meeting point to get on this flight.

"Sadly, my wife has nothing prepared and it wasn't right for her to enter the UK with essentially nothing."

Speaking from the plane after it touched down, he said: "We'll leave the plane one by one or in families for a full health screening and, I believe, just get on a coach to our final destination for our extended vacation."

Asked about the mood on the flight he added: "It's quite mellow to be honest. Everyone's got quite used to wearing face masks and trying their best to do deep cleans."

The newlywed said he hoped he and his wife would be reunited in less than "a few months".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBritons Matt Raw and Adam Bridgeman spoke to the BBC about trying to leave China.

Patrick Graham, another British citizen evacuated from Wuhan, shared footage of the plane touching down at RAF Brize Norton.

He joked with his social media followers, "The infected are coming", before adding: "Thank you staff Wamosair for getting us home - they also have to go into a period of quarantine for bringing us home."

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said all the Britons were screened before boarding the plane and were subject to continuous risk assessment during the flight.

"Everybody who has got on the plane is a well passenger," she said. "If any of those passengers do show symptoms there are set procedures to isolate them."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Wamos Air plane arrived at RAF Brize Norton

The British passengers will be housed in a separate building from the hospital wards, Wirral Council said.

A spokesman added that services in the hospital will be running as usual and staff will be kept separate from the quarantined Britons.

But a group of local MPs have raised concerns about hospital staff and have asked the government for assurances on matters including safeguards and where the staff treating the patients will come from.

Image copyright EPA/LYNNE CAMERON
Image caption Preparations were seen being made at Arrowe Park Hospital ahead of the arrival of Britons evacuated from China

The private coach company transporting them said its drivers had agreed to take the job and will be given paid leave to "remain at home for the next 10 days".

Horseman Coaches added that its vehicles will be "deep cleaned" and then removed from service for a minimum of 10 days.

Some UK citizens did not make the evacuation flight after being told family members with Chinese passports would be unable to join them.

That decision was reversed hours before the plane was due to depart, but it was too late for some to get to the airport.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told Sky News the government would send another plane to Wuhan to rescue British citizens if necessary.

The remaining 27 foreign nationals on the plane - thought to be EU citizens - later landed in Spain, Reuters reports.

Spanish passengers will be quarantined for 14 days at a military hospital, while four Danish citizens and one Norwegian on board will be flown back to their home countries, according to Spain's health ministry.

Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic has suspended flights to Shanghai for two weeks from 1 February, urging affected customers to contact them to receive a refund.

It follows British Airways' decision to extend its cancellation of services to mainland China until 29 February.

The World Health Organization has declared an international public health emergency over the outbreak, which has caused 213 deaths in China and spread to 18 other countries.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: "We must all act together now to limit further spread"

Learn more about the new virus

Image copyright Getty
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWhat are viruses? And how do they spread?

Have you been affected by any of the issues raised? Do you know anybody onboard? You can share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Or use the form below

Your contact details

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

The BBC's Privacy Policy

More on this story