Government advice warns against travel to China with plans in place to evacuate British citizens following coronavirus outbreak

British Airways has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China following the coronavirus outbreak.

The suspension follows the issuing of UK Foreign Office travel warning which was widened on Tuesday to encompass the whole of mainland China. Around 6,000 people are known to have contracted the virus with 132 deaths. The government had previously only advised against travel to Hubei province, where the seat of the outbreak – the city of Wuhan – is located.

British Airways operates daily flights from Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing. Flights have been suspended until January 31 but BA’s website is showing no direct flights to mainland China available until March.

Safety of customers and crew is our priority

The UK’s flag carrier usually operates daily flights from Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing. A spokesman for BA said: “We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority.”

The carrier added that customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days would be able to find out more information on BA will continue its two daily flights from Hong Kong, which are not covered by the government travel warning.

Evacuation plans for UK citizens underway

The UK is finalising plans to evacuate an estimated 200 Britons citizens from Wuhan and the Hubei province. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said government officials were “working urgently to finalise arrangements for an assisted departure from Hubei province for British nationals this week, and are in contact with people in Hubei to ensure they register their interest and that we can keep them updated.”

So far, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, although Public Health England has warned that it may have reached the country. The 97 people tested for the disease have been given the all-clear. Those returning from Wuhan are being advised to “self-isolate” for the virus’ incubation period of 14 days, even if they are showing no symptoms.

Four cases of the disease have been confirmed in Germany, along with three in France.

Virgin Atlantic has also notified passengers that they will not be able to complete journeys to or through China.
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