Britons stuck in coronavirus-hit Wuhan are gearing up to be flown back to the UK on Thursday, it has emerged amid growing pressure on the Government to step up its landmark evacuation mission to rescue hundreds of expats stuck in the coronavirus-hit city.
Residents stuck in the deserted city were today told to contact the embassy in Beijing by 11am tomorrow if they want to come home, with officials claiming an airlift from Wuhan – which has been under lock down since last week – could happen ‘quickly and with short notice’.
One teacher in the Chinese hub has now claimed that some Britons have been scheduled on a flight as early as 7am on Thursday. But she has decided to stay in Wuhan because officials told her her Chinese-national husband would not be allowed to come to the UK.
It is thought evacuees will have health checks before boarding any plane to the UK and will then be quarantined for a fortnight upon touching down on British soil – a similar plan was announced by the US, who launched an emergency mission to repatriate 240 citizens this morning.
It comes as a British teacher and his pregnant wife trapped in Wuhan begged for the Government to rescue them, urging ministers to get his family safely out of the city. Up to 300 British expats are thought to currently be in the city and the surrounding Hubei province, which have been battered by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Foreign Office today warned British nationals against ‘all but essential travel’ to mainland China due to the deadly outbreak.
The ministry advised against all but essential travel to mainland China, not including Hong Kong and Macau, while continuing to warn against all travel to the worst-affected Hubei Province.
The Government has been accused of ‘dragging its feet’ by not yet confirming when a rescue operation will take place. As well as the US, Japan has also launched a rescue mission, with officials flying a chartered Boeing 767 to Wuhan to rescue any residents stuck in the ‘ghost town’.
In other developments:
- At least 4,500 people have been struck down with the killer virus across the world as China has now recorded 106 deaths in the ever-worsening outbreak
- The Department of Health today confirmed almost 100 people have now been tested for the deadly coronavirus in the UK – but all of them have come back as negative
- Shocking footage has captured medics in hazmat suits in Birmingham quarantining a suspected coronavirus victim after he was sent home by his GP
- A German man infected with the Wuhan coronavirus has become the first European to catch the deadly illness outside of China
- A British-American dual national was evacuated out of Wuhan on a California-bound chartered plane organised by US officials
- The British expert developing a vaccine against coronavirus says it has a ‘very good chance’ of being effective as he claims trials will start mid-February
- A British citizen isolated in Wuhan has said he is too afraid to leave his flat for fear of infecting his nine-month-old daughter with the deadly coronavirus
In a desperate plea for help, Tom Williams published on open letter on Twitter to say: ‘I just want to try and share our story so I can try and get my wife, son and unborn child safely out of the city (pictured with his wife Lauren and son James)
Mr Williams said: ‘Please read the letter below. Please help share our story. We are just an ordinary family seeking help!’ (pictured with his wife)
A charter plane organised by the Japanese government to evacuate nationals from Wuhan. It is pictured leaving Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport passenger terminal this evening
The killer coronavirus outbreak has now killed 106 people and struck down more than 4,500. Cases have been spotted in Canada, US, France and Australia
Passengers wear face masks as they stand with their luggage after arriving off of a flight from Beijing at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport today
Travellers are pictured wearing face masks and wheeling their suitcases through the arrivals section of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 this afternoon. They flew from Beijing
Passengers wear face masks as they arrive at Terminal 4 of London Heathrow Airport today after arriving from the Chinese city of Wanzhou
The US is sending a chartered plane to Wuhan to take Americans stranded in the coronavirus-hit city to Alaska, before another plane diverts them to Ontario City in California
WHAT ARE OTHER COUNTRIES DOING TO EVACUATE EXPATS?
British ex-pats and tourists stuck in Wuhan have begged officials to ‘get us out of here’, venting their frustrations at the Government’s response so far.
About 300 Britons who live in the city are growing increasingly anxious after the number of virus cases continues to soar.
They accused the UK of dithering as it emerged the US, France, Spain and Japan had already organised evacuations for its citizens.
France’s health minister Agnes Buzyn said officials will put ‘hundreds’ of citizens on a direct flight to the country later in the week. She said authorities were working on arranging a bus service to get the expats to the airport.
There are some 800 French citizens stranded in the Wuhan area. She said French nationals will be held in quarantine for two weeks on arrival to stop the virus spreading on home soil.
The US State Department is organising a single flight out of Wuhan on Tuesday to San Francisco. It said in the event there are not enough seats, priority will be given to to individuals ‘at greater risk from coronavirus’ – those already showing symptoms.
Officials invited US citizens with a valid passport to contact the embassy in Beijing. Private citizens are expected to later repay the travel costs, the notice said. There are roughly 1,000 Americans living in and around the Wuhan area.
Japan said it planned to evacuate all of its citizens using chartered flights on Wednesday. It claimed it was in final discussions about the logistics with Chinese authorities. Some 430 Japanese nationals reside in or near Wuhan.
The government is also considering evacuation by road from Hubei Province, and have Japanese nationals take flights home from other places, according to Japanese media.
Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez tweeted this morning that Spanish official are trying to evacuate 20 Spaniards stranded in Hubei province. She did not provide further details.
The government is meeting today to discuss how to evacuate the 70 known expats living in Wuhan, most of whom are students. Air force commander ACM Manat Wongwat said that up to four planes with medical staff are on stand-by to evacuate its citizens in the coming days.
Officials have applied for a chartered plane to be allowed to land at Wuhan airport and pick up 32 Sri Lankan students and their family members stranded in the outbreak’s epicentre.
Its foreign office also said it was working to bring back all other citizens living in the wider Hubei province. There are about 860 Sri Lankan students are in China.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said her government is ‘exploring all opportunities’ to help with evacuation of a number of Australians reportedly in Wuhan. There are thought to be a small number of citizens living in the central Chinese city.
India has asked China if it can make arrangements for its expats to leave. It is not clear how and when India plans to evacuate its citizens if approval is granted. Around 250 Indians are still in Wuhan.
The Foreign Office has yet to confirm details about the operation to rescue Brits stuck in Wuhan. But a teacher told the Press Association that UK citizens were being given details of forthcoming flights.
The unidentified teacher living in Wuhan said she had been in contact with the British authorities who informed her that while she could return to the UK, her husband, who has a UK visa, would not be allowed to because he is a Chinese national. It is understood that this was a result of restrictions imposed by China, rather than the UK. As a result, she has decided to remain in China with her husband.
She said: ‘It’s what we were expecting to be honest, as we’d heard that it was like that for the American flight out. We had hoped it would be different, but oh well. If the situation stays as it is, or improves, then we’re fine. We just hope it won’t get any more serious.’ She added that a number of other Britons she was in contact with had arranged to return home, with some scheduled on a flight at 7am on Thursday.
In a desperate plea for help, Tom Williams published an open letter on Twitter to say: ‘I just want to try and share our story so I can try and get my wife, son and unborn child safely out of the city.’ He is one of many ex-pats who have begged officials to evacuate them.
Mr Williams’s open letter – in which he explicitly states he is not telling his story to become famous – has attracted hundreds of likes and retweets since it was posted on Twitter last night. His wife and son are both Canadian citizens.
He wrote: ‘Hello, my name is Tom Williams. I am a British expat teacher who has lived and worked in Wuhan, China for five year with Canadian wife of eight years (Lauren) and son, James (two).
‘My wife is currently 35 weeks pregnant and we are quarantined in the city. Local roads have been closed, which is making getting to the maternity hospital uncertain. The maternity hospital is also much closer to the initial area of the virus outbreak.
‘We are safe and have enough food. Local shops are still open and are well stocked. However, we are requesting that either the Canadian or British Government looks to help evacuate us.’
Mr Williams, from Cheltenham, added: ‘Advice from emergency consulate assistance in both Ottawa, and London, so far is that we should leave if we can. However, they have given no practical steps for how to do that.
‘Without diplomatic help, it would be almost impossible to leave. We are happy to be quarantined in Canada or the UK to guarantee the safety of citizens there, but I also want to ensure the safety of my wife, son and unborn child. If I have to stay behind so be it. My family is my number one priority.’
In his final paragraph, he added: ‘I am not messaging to try and become famous. I just want to try and share our story so I can try to get my wife, son and unborn child safely out of the city.
The Evening Standard this afternoon reported that the British Embassy in Beijing said: ‘Due to the increasing travel restrictions and difficulty accessing medical assistance we are working to make an option available for British nationals to leave Hubei province. This may happen quickly and with short notice.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this morning said the Government is ‘working on’ how to bring people home from the Chinese city. He told BBC Breakfast: ‘For anybody who is there, one of the issues we have, working with our partners internationally on this, is actually identifying how many British citizens there are in Wuhan.
‘One of the things we’re asking people to do is to contact the consulate there to make them aware. People have started to do that. ‘We are working on arrangements as well.’
He added: ‘If they actually contact the consulate where they are then that consulate is in fact gathering together all the information of the people who are there, in order to help repatriate where that’s appropriate.’
Sky News said British ministers were working with their counterparts in China to organise the evacuation for the coming days.
It comes after the Chinese partners of US citizens were been banned from a rescue flight to evacuate Americans from Wuhan. A charter flight is scheduled to fly from the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport to Alaska before landing in Ontario, California, where all of the evacuees will be quarantined for at least 72 hours.
While the Foreign Office waits for a green-light to commence the repatriation, it has created a 24-hour helpline for anyone stuck in the coronavirus-ravaged Hubei province.
It comes as after a coronavirus alert in Birmingham, with dramatic footage showing medics in hazmat suits quarantining a suspected victim after he was sent home by his GP – despite revealing he had just returned from Wuhan.
While the British expert who is developing a vaccine against coronavirus at Imperial College London has revealed it has a ‘very good chance’ of being effective as he claims trials will start mid-February.
Mr Williams’s open letter – in which he explicitly states he is not telling his story to become famous – has attracted hundreds of likes and retweets since it was posted on Twitter last night. His wife and son are both Canadian citizens
Japanese officials prepare to load various supplies such as face masks into a charter plane bound for Wuhan at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The flight is to evacuate Japanese nationals from the Chinese city that has been hit by the outbreak of a new deadly coronavirus
THAILAND ADMITS IT CAN NOT STOP THE SPREAD OF THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS
With 14 confirmed cases of the disease, Thailand is the worst-affected nation outside of China.
And it became the first one to confirm overseas cases on January 13, before Japan followed suit on January 16.
But health minister Anutin Charnvirakul has reportedly admitted the country cannot stop the virus from spreading because there are so many Chinese travellers there.
‘We are not able to stop the spread,’ Mr Charnvirakul told Sky News.
‘Our target is we will be able to detect all carriers entering Thailand and we will apply necessary measures as the situation develops.
‘Of course we expect more people to get sick but we are able to identify all of them.’
And a British citizen isolated in Wuhan has said he is too afraid to leave his flat for fear of infecting his nine-month-old daughter with the deadly coronavirus. The 22-year-old from Manchester, who asked to remain anonymous, said that he and his wife ‘know that if our baby got sick she wouldn’t make it and that’s a horrible, dreadful feeling’.
Dual national Ian Thompson told Good Morning Britain that he would ‘stuck’ in Wuhan if it hadn’t been for his US nationality, telling hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid he was not aware of any attempts by the UK to lift British ex-pats from the empty streets of Wuhan.
Discussing the precautions officials are taking by letting him on the flight, he added: ‘I have to go through two sets of testing. I have to go through the testing once I arrive at the airport through the Chinese authorities, and once I’ve bypassed that one I have to go and be checked by US officials before I board the plane.’
When quizzed about whether the UK had reached out to him, he said: ‘There’s been no official attempts so far, as I’ve been aware or been told.
‘It’s extremely strange, and very scary too. The streets are completely empty, there’s no-one walking around. Everyone’s been told to stay in their houses – there’s no transportation anywhere. All the restaurants, bars and everything are all closed down.
‘If I move from my province to another province area in Wuhan I will automatically get held by police and put into quarantine for 14 days.’
Graham Hubbard is one of a group of three British scientists confined to their hotel rooms in Wuhan. He said the Foreign Office’s advice had been ‘confusing’ and came too late for them to plan their own escape.
The 39-year-old, from Wantage, Oxfordshire, was on a working trip with colleagues when the Chinese authorities blocked transport in and out of Wuhan. His scheduled return flight home was due to take off an hour and a half after the city-wide quarantine came into force last Thursday.
Mr Hubbard and his colleagues, Richard Staunton-Lambert, 49, also from Wantage, and Victoria Sullivan, from Bracknell, Berkshire, are staying at the five-star Renaissance hotel.
He told The Times: ‘We are trapped in our hotel rooms, surrounded by a ghost town with no idea when we can go home to our families and no practical help from our own government, who are giving us contradictory advice.’
The initial advice from the Foreign Office was to stay put and not leave the city until after the travel ban was lifted. But at that time UK officials were not aware of the scale of the outbreak, Mr Hubbard said.
He added: ‘By then it was too late for us to do anything, the flights and trains were cancelled and we were trapped.
‘When I spoke with the Foreign Office today I was told ‘we can not guarantee anything’. It is very frustrating because we have been given contradictory advice.
‘The Foreign Office website was finally updated at 9am UK time. So nothing happens all weekend until they get back to work on Monday.’
Mr Hubbard had been woken up by his panicked wife at the crack of dawn last Thursday who told him about the travel restrictions.
Dual national Ian Thompson told Good Morning Britain that he would ‘stuck here’ if it hadn’t been for his US nationality, saying he is not aware of any attempts by the UK to lift some 300 British ex-pats stranded in Wuhan, described it as a ‘ghost town’ for its empty streets
Graham Hubbard is one of a group of three British scientists confined to their hotel rooms in Wuhan. He blasted the Foreign Office for its ‘confusing’ advice, which came too late for them to plan their own escape
A paramedic head-to-toe in protective gear directs a man wearing a face mask into an ambulance on a residential street in Harborne
Two other paramedics wearing no protective clothing appear in the video – one appears from behind the ambulance doors (left) and another stands beside the hazmat-clad woman (right)
CHINA CONFIDENT IT WILL SLAY ‘DEVIL VIRUS’ AND SLOW THE OUTBREAK IN 10 DAYS
China has been maintaining a positive front in its ‘battle of Wuhan’ today.
President Xi Jinping said the country would defeat the ‘devil virus’ and a high-profile scientist said he was convinced the outbreak would peak in the next 10 days.
Chinese state television quoted President Xi as saying: ‘The virus is a devil and we cannot let the devil hide,’ Reuters reported.
‘China will strengthen international cooperation and welcomes the WHO participation in virus prevention … China is confident of winning the battle against the virus.’
And renowned scientist in China’s National Health Commission, Zhong Nanshan, said he thinks the coronavirus outbreak ‘will not increase at a large scale’.
The number of people confirmed to have the infection has skyrocketed in the past week from 308 on January 21 to 4,592 on January 28.
But Dr Zhong said: ‘I believe it should reach a peak in a week or around ten days.’
He added: ‘The battle of Wuhan is taking place under a situation where there is no clear boundary between us and the enemy.’
Other experts added that warmer weather may make it harder for the infection to spread – cold and flu-like illnesses tend to spread faster in winter weather.
He tried to catch the high-speed train to a city three hours away to fly via a different airport, but was refused a ticket. The father then hired a taxi but the roads were so congested that by the time he got to the outskirts of the city roadblocks had been put up.
Bosses in Wuhan have banned the use of cars, meaning motorways and streets are eerily quiet. The hotel where the British scientists are staying have banned communal eating in the dining room because of the increasing risk of new infections.
Guests can collect takeaway meals to eat in their own rooms or order room service. Mr Hubbard’s wife Laura, 39, who is at home with their three children aged four, six and eight, had begged for the British government to help.
It comes after furious Brits yesterday hit out at the Health Secretary to tell travellers from Wuhan to ‘self-isolate’ amid fears the killer coronavirus is spreading between people even if they do not show any symptoms.
In a desperate attempt to prevent an outbreak on British soil, Mr Hancock begged travellers to stay indoors, avoid contact with anyone and ring NHS 111 if they have any symptoms.
Officials are still desperately trying to hunt down the 1,500 people who are still in the UK after landing from Wuhan in the past fortnight.
Mr Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons: ‘Coronaviruses do not usually spread if people don’t have symptoms – but we cannot be 100 per cent certain.
‘From today, we are therefore asking anyone in the UK who has returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days to self-isolate. Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people – and to contact NHS 111. If you are in Northern Ireland, you should phone your GP.
‘If you develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of travel to the area, and are now in the UK, call your GP or ring 111 informing them of your symptoms and your recent travel to the city. Do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a clinician.’
Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection
Thai Airways employees are pictured disinfecting an empty plane cabin at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok today, January 28. Thailand has 14 confirmed coronavirus cases – the most outside of China
Passengers arriving at Nanjing Railway Station in China have their temperatures checked by staff who are looking to see if anyone has a high fever, a sign of infection
WHERE HAS THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SPREAD TO?
The vast majority of confirmed infections of the Wuhan coronavirus (4,515 out of 4,585, as at 11.40am GMT on January 28) have been diagnosed in China.
But 17 countries or territories outside of the mainland have also declared infections:
- Germany: One case confirmed, diagnosed January 27
- Sri Lanka: One case, diagnosed January 27
- Cambodia: One case, diagnosed January 27
- Canada: Two cases confirmed, first case January 25
- Australia: Five cases, first case January 25
- Malaysia: Four cases, first case January 25
- France: Three cases, first case January 24
- Nepal: One case, first case January 24
- Vietnam: Two cases, first case January 24
- Singapore: Five cases, first case January 23
- Macau: Five cases, first case January 22
- Hong Kong: Eight cases, first case January 22
- Taiwan: Eight cases, first case January 21
- USA: Five cases, first case January 20
- South Korea: Four cases, first case January 20
- Japan: Five cases, first case January 16
- Thailand: 14 cases, first case January 13
Officials have not clarified exactly how patients will be taken to hospital if they complain of symptoms – but it is thought they will be taken in an ambulance and whisked straight off to be isolated while doctors run tests.
Ministers came under immense criticism after Japan said it would send a chartered flight to Wuhan on Tuesday night to evacuate its citizens. Both South Korea, France and Spain are also aiming to fly out citizens this week.
The American flight picked up 240 US citizens in Wuhan to make the 11-hour journey to Anchorage, Alaska, where it will stop over before transporting them to Ontario in California.
UK officials are confirming plans and waiting for permission from Beijing before carrying out the unprecedented repatriation attempt, it was reported.
Senior Foreign Office sources have admitted that keeping Brits in Wuhan ‘could prove to be a death sentence’, given the escalating outbreak which has struck almost 5,000 people.
Officials estimate that up to 200 UK citizens currently in Wuhan will want to return to the UK. If these Britons are flown home by the Foreign Office, health officials will also tell them to ‘self-isolate’ for 14 days.
In other developments last night, Public Health England admitted that the first UK confirmed case is likely to come from somebody already in the country.
When asked about the repatriation operation on Monday, Mr Johnson insisted plans are being worked on to help UK citizens in Wuhan and assured ‘we are doing everything’ to screen people arriving from affected regions.
In an interview at the King’s College London Mathematics School after launching a post-Brexit visa plan, the PM was asked for detail on how frustrated citizens would be assisted.
He replied: ‘We are looking at everything we can to give reassurance to those people in Wuhan and you will be hearing a bit more in due course but I don’t want to pre-empt the decisions we are going to make.
Security guards stand beside a disaster relief tent in Hunan province, near the border of Hubei where Wuhan is the capital. Photographed today, January 28
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF A BRITISH PATIENT CATCHES THE VIRUS?
Are there any treatments for coronavirus?
Experts have stressed many people with coronavirus will make a full recovery, although some people – both young and old – are being badly affected.
At the moment, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for this strain of coronavirus infection.
Patients in England with the virus will be transferred to one of four High Consequences Infectious Diseases (HCID) units in Liverpool, London or Newcastle.
The units have specific areas where staff can change in and out of protective clothing and equipment, while patient isolation rooms have tightly controlled air flow and filtering.
In severe cases of infection, treatment can include life support such as the use of a ventilator, dialysis to support the kidneys and artificial hydration or nutrition.
What advice is being given to the NHS?
Doctors in the UK have been told to leave the room straight away and shut their patient in if they think they might have the Chinese coronavirus. They should close the door and wash their hands thoroughly.
PHE guidance, issued to GPs, says: ‘Avoid physical examination of a suspected case. The patient should remain in the room with the door closed. Belongings and waste should remain in the room.
‘Advise others not to enter the room. If a clinical history still needs to be obtained or completed, do this by telephone. The patient should not be allowed to use communal toilet facilities.
‘Instruct them to not touch anything or anyone when walking to the toilet. Instruct the patient to wash their hands thoroughly after toileting.’
If the patient is critically ill, they should be put into an ambulance, Public Health England said. But otherwise, a hospital should be phoned ahead and warned and the patient must be told to get there without using public transport or a taxi.
Hospitals have also been urged by PHE to check their equipment, supplies and procedures. This includes checking they have respirators that staff can wear if dealing with a patient in isolation.
They should also stock protective clothing such as gloves with long tight-fitting cuffs, disposable and fluid-resistant full-sleeve gowns and single-use goggles. Plenty of clinical waste bags, hand hygiene supplies and chlorine-based disinfectant solutions should also be in stock.
‘Obviously, we are doing everything we can to ensure that people who do come to this country are properly screened and checked if they have come from an area that is known to have the infection. So far there is still no case of somebody with coronavirus here the UK but clearly there are a lot of cases in China and it is spreading.’
But politicians hit back at the lack of news. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the Evening Standard: ‘Boris Johnson is now failing in the first duty of any government — he is not doing whatever it takes to protect our citizens from harm. They need to get this evacuation sorted now.’
Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, told MailOnline: ‘Over the weekend I called on the Government to get a grip, look after British citizens properly and prepare to evacuate them from Wuhan, so it is extremely disappointing that ministers are still dragging their feet.’
Former Foreign and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the government will ‘undoubtedly be looking at’ an airlift, but admitted there will be ‘a lot of logistical issues’.
It comes after Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director and director of health protection for PHE, said the first UK case is likely to come from somebody already in the country – but she said that ‘we’ve been here before’ by preventing the spread of MERS and SARS, adding ‘we are ready’ to cope with any potential cases.
In an interview with Sky News, she said: ‘Our view is that, although airports are important, the most likely place that we might find a case is somebody in the country already, and it’s absolutely critical that the public health service and the NHS are ready to diagnose that and are able to designate the person to the right facilities. That’s the most likely scenario we are dealing with.’
Professor Doyle said efforts were continuing to trace the 2,000 people who have entered the UK from Wuhan on international flights over the past few weeks. But she added: ‘It’s not always possible to find everybody but we are working to our best endeavours.’
Mr Hunt said he would be ‘very sympathetic’, when asked if he supported flying Britons back from Wuhan. He added that it would be ‘very, very challenging for the NHS’ if cases were to crop up in the UK but accepted that doctors and nurses ‘will do exactly what they need to’.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab ordered officials to examine the exact logistics for an airlift out of Wuhan, it was reported yesterday, Although a source said ‘a number of things need to fall into place on the Chinese side before we can make any firm promises’.
A senior Government source said: ‘It is a fast-moving situation and it requires some tough calls to be made. But the situation is now so bad locally, and the medical system so overstretched, that it could prove to be a death sentence. We need to get people out.’
The above picture shared by China’s National Microbiology Data Center shows the first-ever specimen of the novel coronavirus, known as ‘2019-nCov’, extracted from a patient
The sample, with a serial number ‘NPRC 2020.00001’, was extracted from a patient on January 6, according to China’s National Microbiology Data Center. It is the first 2019-nCov specimen
Demand for action from expats trapped in Wuhan grew louder when China’s own President Xi Jinping admitted his country was facing a ‘grave situation’. Cases of the never-before-seen virus in China have now been confirmed in every province of the country except Tibet.
Coronavirus: What we know so far
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can it kill?
Yes. Eighty-one people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.
To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.
What are countries doing to prevent the spread?
Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.
Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?
Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON THE CORONAVIRUS
Two of the expats stranded in the outbreak’s epicentre spoke on This Morning on Monday, saying they are riddled with anxiety as the coronavirus death toll continues to climb. British PE teacher Kharn Lambert, 31, and his visiting 81-year-old grandmother Veronica Theobald have not been outside for a week.
The pensioner, from Lancaster, is too frightened to go out because her debilitating lung condition – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – means that she may not survive a bout of the deadly coronavirus. ‘She needs about 18 different medicines each day and, if she caught this virus, I’m afraid it would kill her,’ Mr Lambert, 31, said last night.
Mrs Theobald arrived in Wuhan in early December and was due to return to the UK tomorrow but her flight was one of those cancelled when the city was effectively closed off to the world on Thursday. She has just a week’s supply of her vital drugs left.
As Mr Lambert and his grandmother waited anxiously, elsewhere in the city yesterday British expats were exchanging angry messages on social media about the apparent intransigence of the Foreign Office in response to their pleas to ‘get us out of here’.
Other British ex-pats living in Wuhan – home to 11million people – have described the eerie scenes on the streets of a usually bustling city. But the city is reportedly standing together to fight the outbreak, with locals chanting ‘Wuhanjiayou’ – which roughly translates as ‘Wuhan, keep going’.
Chris Hill, a foreign language coach originally from Washington in Tyne and Wear, told the PA news agency he had seen scenes of ‘panic and chaos’ akin to something ‘you would see in a movie’ when shopping at a supermarket in the early stages of the outbreak.
Matthew Heard, a 31-year-old education consultant from London who has lived in Wuhan for the past five years, told The Guardian that the best word to sum up the situation in the city at the moment is ‘confusion’.
He said: ‘There’s a lot of information flying around. There’s posts flying around group chats and no one really knows what’s going on. That’s the main frustration.
‘I’ve been holed up for the last maybe three days. On the first day I started out to the supermarket and got a good few things to keep m tied over for the foreseeable eight or nine days, but I’m going to consider perhaps going out again.
‘I know a few others who are venturing out most days just to go to the shops or to the supermarket to see if they can restock on supplies and things.’
The dossier published by Public Health England warns that the virus – which has stricken two in Paris and another in Bordeaux – is ‘accelerating’. Five cases of the unnamed coronavirus have now been recorded in both the US and Australia, and Canada announced its first case over the weekend.
Children in Cambodia, which confirmed its first case of coronavirus yesterday, are now wearing face masks at school to stop the virus spreading. Schools in China are still closed
Traffic queues at a checkpoint outside the city of Yueyang in the Hunan province where police and government staff check travellers for illness
PHE’s document obtained by The Sunday Times advises: ‘The act of moving a recently deceased patient onto a hospital trolley for transportation to the mortuary might be sufficient to expel small amounts of air from the lungs and thereby present a minor risk.
WOULD THE NHS BE ABLE TO COPE WITH ANY POTENTIAL CASES OF THE KILLER CORONAVIRUS?
Fears overwhelmed NHS hospital would struggle to cope with cases of the killer Wuhan coronavirus are growing, with one concerned medic asking: ‘Where will we find extra beds?’
Den Langhor, who claims to be an emergency medicine consultant, mocked Health Secretary Matt Hancock for claiming the UK is ‘well prepared and well-equipped for potential cases.
She tweeted: ‘Mate, the NHS wasn’t even prepared for winter and we’ve had all year to plan for that. Getting the Ebola gear out of the cupboard does not constitute [as] well prepared.’
Ms Langhor added: ‘Hospitals [are already] running at full capacity. If extra beds are needed where will we find them?’
Professor Doyle, medical director and director of health protection for Public Health England, said it is ‘absolutely critical’ that the NHS is ready.
And Former Foreign and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the spread of the killer virus to the UK would be ‘very, very challenging for the NHS’.
Discussing the impact it could have on the health service, the past president of the Society for Acute Medicine warned there is ‘obviously a great concern about the global spread’.
Dr Nick Scriven told MailOnline: ‘If there is a surge in a respiratory-type illness, similar to influenza, in the UK it could put our existing services… under severe extra strain at a time when they are already working at pretty much full capacity.’
The NHS posted its worst ever A&E performance in December, the most recent month figures are available for. Just 79.8 per cent of patients were cared for in four hours, meaning almost 400,000 waited longer.
Doctors’ organisations have repeatedly said the NHS is stuck in a ‘spiral of decline’ and staff are dealing with ‘pressures the like of which we have never seen’.
‘A body bag should be used for transferring the body and those handling the body at this point should use full PPE [personal protective equipment].’ Furthermore, medics meeting any potentially infected people should wear ‘full-face visors’, while GPs should avoid contact with patients and place them into immediate quarantine.
Despite the strict guidance to try to contain the virus, one British teacher who has spent the last decade in Wuhan fears he may be spreading the virus throughout the UK because he claims he was given the wrong advice by an NHS 111 operator.
David Marland lived just five minutes from the seafood market thought to be at the centre of the outbreak in Wuhan. He told The Telegraph that he called the helpline as soon as he stepped off a plan at Gatwick Airport from Dubai, via Hong Kong and the Chinese city of Shenzhen, last week.
But instead of being hauled in for tests in isolation, the 34-year-old alleges that he was only asked if he had the ‘sniffles’ and to only call back if he began to feel unwell – even though it has since been revealed that patients can be infectious without showing any symptoms.
Mr Marland, from Buckinghamshire, said: ‘I’m potentially a risk to other people. I’m still within the two-week period so I could be spreading the disease everywhere without having any symptoms… Maybe I should be staying away from people, but no one has told me to. They haven’t given me any advice at all. I’m just getting on with my life – what else am I supposed to do?’
He accused the NHS operator of j
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Hundreds of British expats stuck in coronavirus-hit Wuhan 'will fly back on THURSDAY' in Government's evacuation mission as teacher and heavily pregnant wife stuck in the Chinese city beg for rescue have 6999 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at January 28, 2020. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.