Coronavirus: Britain says evacuation flight leaves Wuhan with over 200 on board

Staff wearing protective suits check passengers arriving to board a flight at Wuhan's international airport on Feb 7, 2020.
Staff wearing protective suits check passengers arriving to board a flight at Wuhan's international airport on Feb 7, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain said on Saturday (Feb 8) that a final evacuation flight from the Chinese city of Wuhan, epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak, had taken off with more than 200 people on board.

Britain's foreign ministry said the chartered civilian aircraft departed at 3.20am local time on Sunday (3.20am on Sunday, Singapore time), and that the number of passengers included staff who facilitated the flight as well as medics.

"Alongside British nationals, there are other nationalities on board," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Britain said the second and last UK evacuation flight out of Wuhan would have space for all the remaining British nationals in the province of Hubei to leave.

The same day, it had advised its citizens to leave China if they were able to, to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus.

The death toll in mainland China from the new virus rose to to 723 on Saturday, and it has spread to some two dozen countries abroad, including five British nationals infected in a French mountain resort.

There have been three confirmed cases in Britain itself.