The UK government is trying its best to rescue Britons from Wuhan City in Hubei Province, ground zero for the emergence of the deadly virus, 2019-NCov or the Wuhan coronavirus. Just like other residents trapped in the city, the Britons clamor to escape this unfortunate situation, as the virus continues to spread, taking more than 170 lives, and infecting more than 7,000 people.
Amid the health crisis in China, especially in Wuhan, food and water supplies are becoming critically low. Shops, restaurants, and grocery stores have shut down with most of their shelves empty. Fortunately, many citizens had already stockpiled food for the recent Chinese New Year celebrations on January 25, with perhaps enough to last them a couple more weeks.
Due to these predicaments, the British government is trying to rescue its residents trapped in the city. More than 200 residents are scheduled to depart and are required to sign contracts stating they agree to be under quarantine upon arrival in the UK. The country has also suspended all flights from and to China as precautionary measure.
Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Image Credit: Al.geba / Shutterstock
Not allowed to leave yet
Originally, a flight was planned from Wuhan to the UK on Jan. 30th. However, the planned departure of about 200 British nationals from Wuhan to the UK has been postponed due to the delay in permissions from Chinese authorities. However, Foreign Office explained that discussions are ongoing to organize a flight to the UK as soon as possible.
When it eventuates the flight from Wuhan will land at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, all the passengers will be screened and evaluated. Further to that, all of them will then be taken to an NHS facility and put into supported isolation for two weeks. Some UK citizens were also not granted permission to leave Wuhan since they carry Chinese passports.
Rescue plans for other countries
Other countries, such as the United States, Japan, Australia, and the European Union, plan to repatriate their citizens who are still trapped in the city. The Chinese government has locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, not allowing anyone to leave or enter in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
On Jan. 23, authorities issued a notice that all public transport, including buses, flights, ferry services, and railways would be suspended. All residents in the city are not allowed to leave unless they have special permission from the government. Despite the lockdown, more than 300,000 people are estimated to have left the country before the lockdown. As of writing, 14 countries have reported confirmed cases of the coronavirus strain.
Other countries such as Japan and the United States have started rescuing their citizens, with some 200 Japanese nationals among those who left Wuhan. They arrived at the Haneda airport in Tokyo and are under isolation. Meanwhile, the United States has also repatriated about 200 citizens, including employees from the U.S. consulate. All the evacuees cleared initial health checks in China and during a refueling stopover in Alaska.
Current status of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
As of writing, the cases of coronavirus soars with more than 162 people dead, and more than 7,700 people infected in more than a dozen countries. The United States reports its fifth confirmed case and more than 100 people being tests for the infection.
Finland and Sri Lanka added to the list of countries with confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, with one case each. Cambodia and Nepal have one confirmed case of the infection, while Canada and Vietnam have two confirmed cases. Thailand, Japan, and Singapore have the most cases outside of China, with 14, 11, and 10 cases, respectively. The other countries with confirmed cases are Australia (7 cases), France (5 cases), Germany (4 cases), Hong Kong (10 cases), Macao (7 cases), Malaysia (7 cases), South Korea (4 cases), Taiwan (8 cases), United Arab Emirates (UAE) (4 cases), and the United States (5 cases).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that all those who developed fever, difficulty of breathing, and cough within 14 days after leaving China, to seek medical attention right away and void contact with others. They are also advised not to travel while sick.