Coronavirus news – live: First patients in UK test positive for deadly virus as plane evacuates 83 Britons from Wuhan

Coronavirus news – live: First patients in UK test positive for deadly virus as plane evacuates 83 Britons from Wuhan


Cruise line bans holidaymakers who have visited China in past month

A cruise line has banned holidaymakers who have visited mainland China in the past 30 days from boarding its ships amid coronavirus fears, writes Cathy Adams.

MSC Cruises, which has 19 ships, will ask guests to fill in a questionnaire before boarding.

Anybody who has travelled from or via mainland China, where the coronavirus outbreak has killed 213 people, in the past 30 days would be denied boarding to its ships, the cruise line said.


Coronavirus: Cruise line bans passengers who have visited china in past 30 days


Cases in China rises to more than 9,800

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China has risen over 9,800, the country’s envoy to the United Nations in Vienna has said.


The ambassador, Wang Qun said: “Altogether there are 9,809 confirmed cases. Among them, there are 1,527 cases of critical conditions, (plus) 15,238 suspected cases.”


He added that there had been 213 deaths.


Italy declares national state of emergency

Italy has declared a state of emergency after its first two confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to a government source.


Investigation team set up to trace anyone who came into contact with UK patients

The two patients who have tested positive for coronavirus in England are in a high consequence infectious disease unit in Newcastle, chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said.

An outbreak investigation team has been formed to trace anyone who has been in contact with the pair to prevent the illness spreading.

Director for national infection service at Public Health England Professor Sharon Peacock said: “We were able to stand up an outbreak investigation team immediately and that team is working now, and what they’ll be doing is aiming to contact everybody who has been in contact with these two cases and prevent onward transmission.”


The two UK cases of coronavirus are being treated at Newcastle’s infectious disease unit, according to - politics correspondent Kate Proctor.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has said he will not release details about the patients, including names, gender, ages, or whether they have been in China, she added.

The North of England’s Infection and Tropical Medicine Service is located at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), in Newcastle city centre.


Thailand confirms first human-to-human coronavirus transmission

Thailand has seen its first case of human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus inside the country, a health official has confirmed.

The first patient to contract the virus inside Thailand is a Thai taxi driver, said Tanarak Pipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control.

He said the taxi driver has not travelled to China and was most likely infected by a sick traveller from the country.

Thailand today raised its total number of cases to 19 – the second-highest after China.


First UK coronavirus patients ‘treated at Newcastle hospital’

The first two patients to test positive for coronavirus in the UK are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, sources have told PA.

On Wednesday night, an apartment-hotel in Yorkshire was put on lockdown when a man, understood to be a Chinese national, was taken to hospital after falling ill.

The man, who was a guest at the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York, was taken to hospital, together with family members, by medics.


Italy discusses declaring national emergency after first two cases of coronavirus

Italy’s government is set to discuss declaring a state of national emergency after confirming its first two cases of the new coronavirus, a cabinet statement said on Friday.

Last night, prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced two Chinese tourists who were visiting Italy had contracted the virus, adding that the government had decided to close air traffic to and from China.

Italy’s civil aviation authority ENAC on Friday said all flights between China and Italy had been suspended until further notice at the behest of health authorities.


Germany prepares to evacuate citizens in China

A German military plane is preparing to fly to China to evacuate 100 German citizens, none of whom are infected with coronavirus or suspected of having contracted it.

Foreign minister Heiko Maas said the plane would arrive in Germany on Saturday and the evacuees would be kept in quarantine for two weeks.


Two confirmed coronavirus cases in England 

Two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus, Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty has said.


People are rushing to buy face masks to try to protect themselves from the coronavirus in the UK, but health experts are doubtful about how effective they are, writes Jane Dalton.

Human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed in Japan, Germany and Vietnam, of the 15 countries where people have fallen ill.

The UK does not yet have any confirmed cases of coronavirus, but the Boots website has sold out of a six-pack of “safe & sound” surgical face masks, with a note saying no further stock will be received.


Coronavirus: Face masks sell out but experts say they won’t prevent spread of deadly virus


Britain could send another plane to Wuhan

Senior minister Michael Gove has said Britain will send another plane to Wuhan to pick up British citizens if necessary.

“If we need to do so, then we will,” he said, when asked by Sky News if Britain would send a second aircraft.


US urges Americans in China to leave

After the World Health Organization classed the coronavirus outbreak as “a Public Health Emergency of International Concern”, Americans in China have been urged to leave the country, writes travel correspondent Simon Calder.

Overnight the US State Department raised its alert from “Reconsider Travel” to “Do Not Travel” because it of a “rapidly spreading outbreak” of the virus.

The official advice says: “Do not travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan.


Brits refuse to board flight after being told Chinese relatives cannot join – only for decision to be reversed hours later

Chris Hill with daughter Renee Gao (PA)

Some Britons in Wuhan declined to join the repatriation flight after being told any Chinese nationals in their family would be unable to join – only for the decision to be reversed hours later.

The original decision, thought to have been a result of the Chinese government not recognising dual nationality, was reversed just hours before the plane was due to depart, leaving it too late for some to make it to the airport.

Chris Hill, originally from Washington, Tyne and Wear, chose not to board the flight back to the UK for fear his four-year-old daughter Renee would not be allowed on because she is a Chinese national.

The father said he could not consider leaving his family, and his wife of 11 years, also a Chinese national, could not travel because she was needed to work in a hospital in Wuhan.

Mr Hill criticised the planning of the evacuation flight, claiming he was only told to be at meeting point seven minutes before the deadline.

He said: “There’s no cars, there’s no taxis, anything, and the FCO say, ‘Oh we’ll pick you up from Wuhan Tianhe airport but you have to make your own way there’. That gives me a very bad taste in my mouth.”


Evacuation flight carrying Brits delayed

The Foreign Office has announced a plane carrying 83 British and 27 foreign nationals is now expected to land at RAF Brize Norton at 1.30pm, rather than 1pm.


MSC Cruises is banning anyone who has visited or travelled via China in the last 30 days from getting on one of its ships.


Airlines suspend flights to China

A number of airlines have suspended flights to China as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Here’s a list of all the ones we know of so far:


Air Canada said on 28 Jan it was cancelling select flights to China.


Air France said on 30 Jan it suspended all scheduled flights to and from mainland China until 9 Feb.


Air India said it was cancelling its Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai flight from 31 Jan to 14 Feb.


Air New Zealand said on 31 Jan it was temporarily reducing flights between Auckland and Shanghai to four return services a week from 18 Feb to 31 March rather than the usual daily flights.


South Korean budget carrier Air Seoul said on 28 Jan it had suspended all flights to China.


Tanzania’s state-owned carrier said it would postpone its maiden flights to China. It had planned to begin charter flights to China in February.


The largest US carrier said it would suspend flights from Los Angeles to Beijing and Shanghai from 9 Feb to 27 March.


BA said on 30 Jan it had cancelled all flights to mainland China for a month.


Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific said it would progressively reduce capacity to and from mainland China by 50 per cent or more from 30 Jan to the end of March.


The US airline said on 29 Jan it was reducing flights to China to 21 per week from 42, starting 6 Feb through 30 April.


Egypt’s flag carrier said on 30 Jan it would suspend all flights to and from China starting 1 Feb.


The African carrier on 30 Jan denied reports it had suspended all flights to China. The airline’s statement contradicted its passenger call centre, which told Reuters earlier in the day that flights to China had been suspended.


Finland’s Finnair said on 28 Jan it would suspend its flights to bioreportsjing and Beijing until the end of March after China suspended international group travel from the country.

Finnair will suspend its three weekly flights between Helsinki and Beijing Daxing between 5 Feb and 29 March and its two weekly flights between Helsinki and bioreportsjing between 8 Feb and 29 March.


Indonesia’s Lion Air Group said on 29 Jan it would suspend all flights to China from February. The airline has suspended six flights from several Indonesian cities to China so far and will suspend the rest next month.


Germany’s Lufthansa said on 29 Jan it was suspending Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines flights to and from China until 9 Feb. The airline continues to fly to Hong Kong, but it will stop taking bookings for flights to mainland China until the end of February.


Nordic airline SAS said on 30 Jan it has decided to suspend all flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing from 31 Jan until 9 Feb.

SAS offers 12 regular weekly connections from and to Shanghai and Beijing.


Singapore Airlines Ltd said on 31 Jan it would reduce capacity on some of its routes to mainland China in February.

The cuts include flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen and Chongqing, some of which are flown by regional arm SilkAir. Its budget carrier Scoot is also cutting back on flights to China.


Turkey’s flag carrier said on 30 Jan it would decrease frequency on scheduled flights to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xian between 5 Feb and 29 Feb.


Chicago-based United said it would implement a second phase of flight cancellations between its hub cities in the United States and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, resulting in 332 additional roundtrips being called off through 28 March.

The cancellations will reduce the carrier’s daily departures for mainland China and Hong Kong to four daily departures from 12.

United had previously suspended 24 US flights to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai between 1 Feb and 8 Feb because of a significant drop in demand.


UPS has cancelled 22 China flights, as a result of the Wuhan quarantines and normal manufacturing closures due to the Lunar New Year holiday, UPS Chief Executive David Abney said on 30 Jan. He did not specify how many flights cancellations were due to the virus.


Virgin Atlantic said on 30 Jan it would suspend its daily operations to Shanghai for two weeks from 2 Feb. It cited declining demand for flights and the safety of its customers and staff.


WHO declares ‘unprecedented’ coronavirus outbreak public health emergency

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the “unprecedented” outbreak of coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, as officials bid to prevent infections in countries with weak healthcare systems, writes Vincent Wood.


Praising China’s response to the outbreak which began in the city of Wuhan, director-general Tedros Adhanom said governments must work together “in a spirit of solidarity” to control the spread of the new pathogen.


“We would have seen many more cases outside China by now – and probably deaths – if it were not for the government’s efforts and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world,” he added, having recently met with Chinese premier Xi Jinping while monitoring the nation’s response.


Death toll rises to 213

Chinese health officials this morning confirmed the death toll in the country has risen to 213, up from 170 a day earlier, with the number of known cases rising from 7,711 to 9,692.

No deaths have occurred outside China, although 82 cases have been confirmed across 18 countries.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than fell ill during the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

The UK’s four chief medical officers have raised the risk level of the illness from low to moderate and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an international public health emergency.



Britons flown back to UK to be quarantined

After several delays, a flight – chartered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – left Wuhan at 9.45am local time, carrying 83 Britons and 27 non-UK nationals, mostly from EU countries.


The flight is expected to arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at about 1pm today.


The British passengers on the evacuation flight – who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province – had to sign a contract agreeing to isolation before they could board the flight and underwent temperature checks.


Once they touch down in the UK, they will be taken by bus to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral for a quarantine period of 14 days, where they will be housed in an NHS staff accommodation block with access to the internet.


Anyone with suspicious symptoms will be taken to the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital, which has a high-level infectious diseases unit.


After the British passengers disembark, the flight will continue on to Spain, where EU countries will process the non-British evacuees.

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