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As it happenedended1580338643

Coronavirus news – live: Outbreak overtakes SARS for confirmed cases as Britons arriving from Wuhan to be quarantined for two weeks

Follow the latest updates

Conrad Duncan,Vincent Wood
Wednesday 29 January 2020 20:05 GMT
Stephen Barclay dodges Andrew Marr's coronavirus airlift question 4 times

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.

Some 201 US citizens were airlifted to southern California where they will remain under medical observation.

However the UK government has said it will not be launching an evacuation of its citizens anytime soon. It is understood China has not granted the necessary permissions to allow for the removal of British nationals on Thursday.

Confirmed cases of the virus also rose sharply to more than 6,000 on Wednesday, overtaking the 5,327 confirmed cases of SARS during the same time period in the 2002-2003 outbreak which killed more than 750 people in 17 countries worldwide.

Meanwhile the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it would reconvene officials to decide whether the outbreak constituted an emergency of international concern.

Here are the days events as they happened...


Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 07:48

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

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 07:55

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:

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 07:59

Australia announces plans to quarantine citizens on Christmas Island

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that his government will help some citizens to leave China and quarantine them on Christmas Island to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We have taken a decision this morning to prepare a plan for an operation to provide some assisted departures for isolated and vulnerable Australians in Wuhan and the Hubei province,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

However, the prime minister did not say how many of the 600 Australians registered in the Hubei region of China would be helped by his government.

Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean 1,500km (900 miles) from the mainland, is home to a controversial immigration detention centre.

Australia, which has five confirmed cases of coronavirus, also upgraded its travel advice on Wednesday and warned citizens to “reconsider all travel to China”.

Source: EPA 

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 08:14

Baroness Morgan: British Airways decision provides 'more impetus' for evacuation plans

Baroness Morgan, the culture secretary, has said BA’s decision to suspend all flights to China would give “more impetus” to the government’s bid to arrange travel home for Britons in Hubei province.

“The Foreign Office will be working with staff on the ground to identify UK nationals,” the Conservative peer told BBC Breakfast.

“We will get people home as soon as we can, as soon as we can make arrangements.”

She added: “Obviously, today's decision by British Airways provides more impetus to the government to make other plans and communicate those.”

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 08:21

UAE confirms first cases of coronavirus in Middle East

The United Arab Emirates has said doctors are treating a family for coronavirus, confirming the first cases in the Middle East from the outbreak.

The UAE's state-run WAM news agency made the announcement and cited the Health and Prevention Ministry, but offered no details on where the family lived nor where they were receiving treatment.

It has also not offered the number of patients being treated and only said the cases came from “members of a family arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan.”

The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula that includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways and is a hub for global air travel.

The virus, which was first identified in Asia, has spread around the world to North America, Europe and Australasia.

Additional reporting by AP

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 08:36

A British national who has been living in Wuhan with his Indonesian wife and two British children has criticised the UK government’s evacuation efforts this morning.

Nick House told Sky News that he was told by an official he could take a flight home but his wife, who does not have a visa, could not.

“We would like to be out of here. The man on the other end of the phone said 'Yes, you are on the list, but unfortunately your wife probably won't be able to get on the plane because she doesn't have a visa at the moment,’” Mr House said.

“I won't leave without my wife, so essentially the government are leaving three British people here for the sake of one seat on a plane.”

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 08:50

Jet lands in Alaska with US citizens from China outbreak zone

A chartered plane carrying about 200 Americans from Wuhan landed in Alaska earlier this morning (at 9.30pm local time).

The plane, which is carrying diplomats from the US Consulate in Wuhan and some other US citizens, has made a refuelling stop in Alaska before it flies on to Southern California, according to the US Embassy in China.

In Anchorage, Alaska, passengers were set to go through customs and a Centers for Disease Control screening.

“Then they will put them back on the plane and then send them on to their final destination,” Jim Szczesniak, manager of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, said.

Source: Getty Images 

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 09:04

Japanese evacuation flight brings workers back from virus-hit city

The first group of Japanese evacuees from Wuhan also arrived in Tokyo this morning, with five of the 206 passengers immediately taken into hospital with a cough and fever.

The five evacuees were taken to a designated Tokyo hospital specialising in treating infectious diseases, prime minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary session.

It is unclear if any passengers are ill with coronavirus at this time.

“We were feeling increasingly uneasy as the situation developed so rapidly when we were still in the city,” Takeo Aoyama, an employee at Nippon Steel Corp's subsidiary in Wuhan, told reporters at Tokyo's Haneda airport while he waited for a bus to take him to a health check.

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 09:13

Hong Kong confirms new cases of coronavirus

Hong Kong has confirmed two more cases for coronavirus, according to AFP’s Jerome Taylor.

The two patients are reportedly a 73-year-old woman and 72-year-old man who are both residents of Wuhan.

Mr Taylor added that the couple stayed in two hotels before falling ill on 28 January and may have been infectious for six days before they went to hospital.

Conrad Duncan29 January 2020 09:19

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