Coronavirus: Britons now advised to leave China if they are able to

Andrew Cummings
February 5, 2020

Li Lanjuan, China's National Health Commission's coronavirus committee, said that lack of supplies are preventing the country from doing more aggressive tests for the virus, according to state media.

France also issued an advisory, warning against any non-essential travel to China and suggesting that French citizens in China return home.

He added: "The safety and security of British people will always be our top priority".

The escalating coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, a city in central China's Hubei Province.

China considers Taiwan to be a renegade province and has objected to it becoming a member of the World Health Organization (WHO).

In an update to its travel advice, the Foreign Office also said some staff and dependants from the British embassy and consulates were bring withdrawn from China and that only essential staff would remain. In total, around 150 people have been infected with the new virus outside China.

New confirmed cases in Wuhan surged by 1,967 on Tuesday, up from 1,242 on Monday.

The Department of Health said on Monday that 326 United Kingdom tests for coronavirus have concluded, with a total of two coming back positive.

Two people, a University of York student and one of their relatives, continue to be treated for coronavirus in the specialist infectious diseases unit at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary. The British government said it will still try to evacuate British citizens from Hubei, where some 50 million people are under travel restrictions.

A total of 94 United Kingdom nationals and family members have been evacuated to Britain from Wuhan - the city in Hubei province at the epicentre of the breakout - on two flights which arrived on Friday and Saturday.

Fueling those fears, four regional Italian governors from the anti-migrant League party formally asked the health ministry to require school-age children from China to undergo 14 days of observation before being allowed back to class.

Several Chinese carriers are continuing to operate flights between China and the UK.

"We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In South Korea, the latest confirmed case involved a 42-year-old Korean woman who developed chills on January 25, according to a February 4 press release by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hong Kong reported its first death from the newly identified coronavirus on Tuesday, the second fatality outside mainland China from an outbreak that has killed over 420 people, spread around the world and raised fears for global economic growth.

With Wuhan and some other cities in virtual lockdown, travel severely restricted and China facing increasing worldwide isolation, fears of wider economic disruption are growing; sources at the OPEC oil cartel said producers were considering cutting output by nearly a third to support prices.

Countries with such restrictions have sparked criticism from China, with its government accusing the U.S. of causing "panic" in its response instead of helping.

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