The government is “looking at all options” to help Britons stranded in the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, the home secretary has said.
According to reports, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has ordered officials to examine the logistics of an airlift from Wuhan, in the country’s Hubei province.
Asked if this was something the government was looking at, Priti Patel told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “We’re looking at all options. I’m not going to comment specifically on newspaper stories.
“But it’s right that we look at all options and that’s exactly what the government is doing right now.”
The Foreign Office has updated its guidance to “advise against all travel to Hubei province”, which has been in lockdown for several days.
Britons who are in the area have been urged to leave the area if they can.
But one British man, who travelled to Wuhan to visit his girlfriend and is stuck in the city after his return flight was cancelled, has described trying to get out as “impossible”.
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The 29-year-old, who did not wish to be named, told the Press Association: “There have been sporadic warnings from local government in Chinese to tell us that there will be road closures.
“There is no news on when the airport will reopen, therefore the airline (China Southern) have just cancelled the flight.
“I’ve also had no help from the UK Embassy in Beijing who are conveniently closed for the weekend.”
The number of people infected globally by the coronavirus stands at more than 2,000.
However, there have been no cases in the UK so far, or among British citizens abroad, with the risk to the public still classed as low.
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Witty, has said there is a “fair chance” there will be cases in Britain.
A total of 56 people have died in China from the virus.
Ms Patel said the government was “taking all the precautions” and working “to ensure we do our utmost to keep the British public safe”.
This includes a Public Health England hub at Heathrow airport to prevent the spread of the virus, she told Sky News.
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Health officials are working to track down around 2,000 people who have recently travelled from Wuhan to the UK.
The Department of Health has said it is trying to find “as many passengers as we can” to check on their wellbeing.
Border Force officers have been recruited to help speed up the search for passengers, it is understood.
SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-uk-looking-at-all-options-to-help-britons-in-wuhan-11918234