Evacuees from coronavirus-hit China begin two-week quarantine as one passenger diverted after feeling unwell

  • ITV News Correspondent Damon Green reports from outside Arrowe Park Hospital

Ten more evacuees from coronavirus-hit China are beginning a two-week quarantine period in the Wirral after they were flown back to the UK late on Sunday.

The British nationals and family members arrived at RAF Brize Norton on a flight from France shortly before 8pm.

They were then transported to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral to join 83 people already in isolation.

Another passenger on board, Anthony May-Smith, was diverted to another NHS hospital after feeling "slightly unwell" during the journey, according to a statement from Wirral Council.

The Brit was tested for coronavirus and on Monday evening it was confirmed he does not have the illness.

As a precaution, Mr May-Smith had been kept in a quarantine area with around 30 other ill passengers on the first flight to France as he had had "a bit of a cough and a sore throat" while he was in China.

Despite more than 360 people dying from coronavirus, Mr May-Smith said he "wasn't really scared at all, it wasn't until I actually got off the plane in the UK [when] I started to become a little more nervous".

"When we landed in the UK I had a bit of a dodgy belly and everyone else got off the plane and a paramedic in a hazmat suit came on, explained to me what was going to happen, escorted me off the plane and into an ambulance.

"And then we just made our way straight to the hospital."

He told ITV News he missed his original flight from Wuhan, where he was visiting his girlfriend, on Friday because he was only told his flight was ready two hours in advance of take-off.

Because the city has shut down public transport, he missed out.

  • The first flight of evacuated British nationals landed on Friday evening before passengers were transported by coach to the Wirral:

The latest repatriation flight came as a man in the Philippines became the first person to die from the virus outside China, where the death toll has risen to more than 360.

Chinese authorities said the number of confirmed cases of infection had increased to more than 17,000.

On Monday, the UK government pledged £20 million of funding to try and develop a vaccine to combat the deadly global disease.

In a statement, Wirral Council confirmed one of the 11 evacuees had not been transported to Arrowe Park Hospital and instead "remained isolated" after feeling unwell on the flight.

The passenger, Mr May-Smith told Sky News he now feels "fine" and added:

"When we boarded the plane in France to come to the UK, the nurse asked if any of us had had any symptoms.

"I made myself known to her and she told me to sit away from anybody else on the flight.

Mr May-Smith said it is "a little bit daunting" when medics enter his room as they wear a face mask, are "all covered up, (have) four pairs of gloves and wellingtons".

A University of York student and their relative remain the only two confirmed cases in the UK and the pair are being treated at a specialist unit in Newcastle.

Sunday's repatriation flight arrived just before 8pm carrying eleven passengers. Credit: PA

The last flight evacuating Britons from Wuhan will leave on Tuesday 4 February and will be a shared flight with New Zealand, ITV News understands.

In a statement issued by the British Embassy in Beijing, officials advised "there are a number of new flights this week arranged by partner countries".

"We are working hard to get seats on those flights for British nationals and their immediate families - the Chinese authorities have confirmed that this would include Chinese and third-party nationals.

It added: "These may be the last flights available for the foreign nationals out of Hubei."

Two people wear masks in Parliament Square as two cases of coronavirus are confirmed in the UK. Credit: AP

On Sunday, the Foreign Office, which has withdrawn some staff from China and closed the British Consulate-General in Wuhan, said it was continuing to work with EU countries to add remaining Britons to any rescue flights they may charter back from Wuhan.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office (FCO) said: "The Government is in touch with British nationals who remain in Wuhan, and are doing everything we can to bring them home as safely and quickly as possible."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government – which has launched a public health campaign advising people how to slow the spread of the virus – is doing all it can to help Britons leave Wuhan.

Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: "We’ll do everything we can to make sure that those that still want to leave, give them the opportunity to do so."

He added: "The challenge that we’ve got, and the Chinese have got frankly, is to contain the virus, but also then to lift out people that want to come back home and we’re doing that as sensitively and as effectively as we can."

A UK-wide public health campaign has been launched to advise people how to slow the spread of coronavirus Credit: NHS/PA

The University of York reassured staff and students that the risk there remains after a student and their relative were confirmed as the first two cases of coronavirus in the UK.

Investigations revealed the unnamed student had not been on campus or in student accommodation either before or after being exposed to the virus.

Vice-chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery said the student did not attend a university Chinese New Year celebration or recent graduation ceremonies and contacted emergency services as soon as their relative showed symptoms of the virus.

York University has advised people concerned about their health in relation to coronavirus to call 111 Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Public Health England is continuing to work to try to trace people who had close contact – defined as being within two metres of the infected person for 15 minutes – with the pair, who had checked in to the Staycity apartment-hotel in York.

A dedicated helpline set up by the University of York at the weekend for people with concerns about the virus had received more than 240 calls by Sunday afternoon.

The UK risk level from coronavirus remains at moderate, having been raised from low last week, on the same day the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an international public health emergency.