‘The infected are coming!’ Evacuees aboard Wuhan airlift celebrate their return as plane carrying 83 Brits from coronavirus-hit Chinese city arrives at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire after 12-hour flight
- The flight left Wuhan at 9.45am local time today (1.45am UK time)
- Passengers are believed to have waited at the airport for around 11 hours
- They all had medical screening before being allowed to board
- 27 passengers from Europe are also onboard the flight and will go on to Spain
A jumbo jet carrying more than 100 passengers to the UK from the crisis-hit Chinese city of Wuhan has landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Some 83 British and 27 European citizens trapped in the locked-down city at the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak have been flown to England to safety.
They were met by a fleet of at least seven hired coaches which will ferry the Brits to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside, where they will be isolated for two weeks.
The EU passengers, who are mostly Spanish, will continue on to Spain and be taken to a medical facility in Madrid.
The plane departed Wuhan at 9.45am local time today (1.45am UK time) and its passengers endured a 12-hour flight under supervision of a cabin crew working for Wamos Air, the Spanish airline, RAF personnel and Army medics.
All had to have health checks before being allowed on the plane and will be constantly monitored for the next two weeks.
The UK first declared its first cases of the coronavirus earlier today and the country is now on high alert for more possible infections.
The plane has touched down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire carrying more than 100 people from the Chinese city of Wuhan
One of the passengers onboard the flight posted on Instagram as the plane was coming into land. They then followed up the post with the caption: ‘The infected are coming’
Police in hazmat suits are pictured on the runway at Brize Norton today
Police and paramedics are on standby near the plane, which will be carrying more than 100 people who could be infected with the coronavirus
The emergency flight took off after the Government yesterday rustled together arrangements for British citizens trapped inside Wuhan.
The city, which is bigger than London and home to 11million people, has no public transport and closed roads, while shops and businesses are closed under lockdown.
The passengers will all have had medical testing before boarding the plane and any who showed signs of sickness would have been turned away at the airport and left in China.
It is understood that nobody who arrived at the airport with a seat booked was turned away because of their health.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘Everybody who has got on the plane is a well passenger.
‘If any of those passengers do show symptoms there are set procedures to isolate them during any process and remove them in any part of the journey.’
But there remains a possibility that passengers on the flight, who include holidaymakers and expats who were living in China, are infected with the virus.
It can take up to two weeks, or potentially more, for symptoms to appear so people may not know they are infected.
For this reason, the passengers will all be isolated in an accommodation apartment building at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside.
Staff at the hospital are reportedly furious that they weren’t told this would be happening, with many only finding out on the news rather than from their bosses.
Two Labour MPs from Wirral, Angela Eagle and Alison McGovern both said on Twitter that they had not been told either.
One unnamed nurse at Arrowe Park told the Liverpool Echo: ‘Most staff heard it on the news first which is terrible, panic is the word I would use. At least warn your staff before the news. The Wirral population are worried also.’
Jane Godman, from the Wirral, wrote on Twitter, ‘Decision to have a coronavirus quarantine centre at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral is bizarre.
‘One of the busiest hospitals in the North West, with a maternity unit, in a built up area, 170 miles from where the Wuhan plane lands. Who decided this and why?’
The Wamos Airlines plane is pictured flying over a village in Oxfordshire on its way to RAF Brize Norton
The Wuhan evacuation flight, which left the deserted Chinese city at 9.45am local time (1.45am GMT), is pictured on the runway at RAF Brize Norton
Ambulances, one police van, and a police car are pictured surrounding the Wamos Airlines flight as it landed at the Oxfordshire base
An armed soldier stands guard at RAF Brize Norton this morning
Military personnel are seen guarding the gate at Brize Norton airfield this morning
A fleet of coaches is pictured arriving at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today. The buses will carry 83 British passengers to an NHS facility in Wirral, Merseyside
The coach company collecting British passengers arriving on the evacuation flight out of coronavirus-hit China said its vehicles will be ‘deep cleaned’ afterwards
The UK’s first cases of coronavirus were confirmed this morning in two people who are believed to have been staying at a hotel in York.
They were diagnosed overnight and transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria hospital earlier today.
In Newcastle they are being kept in isolation under the care of specialist medics in an infectious disease unit.
Government officials are trying to work out who the pair – believed to be Chinese citizens – came into contact with during their stay and who they may have contaminated.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England said in a statement this morning: ‘We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus.
‘The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.
‘The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.
‘We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately.
‘We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.’
Scientists had been expecting a case to be diagnosed here for more than a week, since it became clear how widely the virus was spreading.
Almost 10,000 people in 24 countries and territories have now been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus and 213 people have died, all in Chin
Evacuees heading back to the UK from China today landed at RAF Brize Norton and will be taken by bus to the Wirral, where they will be kept in isolation for two weeks
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