Foreign Office urges Brits to leave China as coronavirus outbreak continues

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has told British nationals in China to leave if they are able to do so.

The decision comes as the country continues to battle an outbreak of a new coronavirus.

In China alone, there are now more than 24,300 cases of the virus, with the death toll at 490.

There is a much smaller number of cases in other countries around the globe – two people outside of mainland China have died of the disease.

As a result of the outbreak, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is currently advising against all but essential travel to mainland China.

This does not currently include Hong Kong and Macao.

In a statement, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office warned the Chinese government continues to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the outbreak.

These restrictions include the closure of some provincial highways and inter-city high speed rail, tight control on entry and exit to villages and townships across the country, and restrictions on movement within some cities and municipalities including Chongqing.

Some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have announced a suspension of flights to and from mainland China.

Other commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder to access departure options over the coming weeks.

As many as 165 Britons are reported to remain in Hubei province and 108 are believed to have asked the Foreign Office for help to leave.

A second government charter flight to evacuate British nationals in Hubei province – the epicentre of the outbreak – is planned to operate on Sunday to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

A first repatriated more than 100 Brits last week.

Foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “We have been working round the clock to help British nationals leave Hubei province, on UK, French and New Zealand flights.

“The Foreign Office is chartering a second and final UK flight with space to help all British nationals and their dependants remaining in Hubei to leave.

“I encourage all British nationals in Hubei to register with our teams if they want to leave on this flight.”

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