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US News Briton in 'frantic' dash to get family on virus evacuation flight

08:55  01 february  2020
08:55  01 february  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Virus evacuation flight arrives in UK. He and his wife were in Wuhan to celebrate Chinese New Year with his mother-in-law but have been stuck inside In the end, they were only given 90 minutes' notice to get to the airport and did not know if Mrs Convey would be allowed on the flight until they got there.

Eighty-three Britons and 27 foreign nationals who were trapped in the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak are on a flight back to the UK. The flight comes hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency over the outbreak.

a woman sitting at a table eating food: James Convey says he wasn't sure whether his wife (left) would be let on the flight © Other James Convey says he wasn't sure whether his wife (left) would be let on the flight

A man on the evacuation flight from the coronavirus epicentre has said he is "very relieved" to be back in the UK after battling locked-down roads to get to Wuhan airport with just 90 minutes' notice.

James Convey also said it was touch and go whether his Chinese wife, who lives and pays taxes in the UK, would be allowed on the flight which landed at RAF Brize Norton at 1.30pm.

The 83 Britons were transferred to seven coaches to take them to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, Merseyside, where a special facility has been set up for them to be quarantined for 14 days.

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Britons stranded in the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic were scrambling to the airport this afternoon to meet an evacuation deadline.There was anger that they had to make their.

a man standing in front of a bridge: The streets are very quiet in some areas of Wuhan © Getty The streets are very quiet in some areas of Wuhan

It comes as the first two cases of the virus were confirmed in the UK.

Speaking from one of the coaches, Mr Convey, from Staffordshire, told Sky News: "It was quite a positive atmosphere on the plane, everybody was relieved to get out of China.

"There were a lot of obstacles to get over to get on that plane, we got over those obstacles with the help of the Chinese and UK authorities.

"We're all very relieved to get back to the UK."

He and his wife were in Wuhan to celebrate Chinese New Year with his mother-in-law but have been stuck inside her apartment for days, too nervous to leave as there were people who died from coronavirus nearby.

a car parked on the side of a building: The Britons will be monitored for two weeks at Arrowe Park Hospital © PA The Britons will be monitored for two weeks at Arrowe Park Hospital

It was a long journey from when the British government said it was going to evacuate its nationals to when the flight actually left.

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Flights taking Britons back home from the coronavirus-hit Chinese province of Hubei could begin as early as Thursday as urgent plans for a major evacuation are put in place. The British embassy in Beijing warned that transport to get UK citizens out “may happen quickly and with short notice”.

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In the end, they were only given 90 minutes' notice to get to the airport and did not know if Mrs Convey would be allowed on the flight until they got there.

"All the roads were closed and transport was shut down but my mother-in-law pulled some strings to get us to the airport and amazingly we did get there in time.

"There's probably a lot of people who didn't get there in time and possibly missed the flight.

"There was initially a difficulty with my wife being repatriated to the UK but we got over that right at the last minute.

"This was all unfolding in the car on the way to the airport. We decided to gamble, put her in the car and got on the phone to the Foreign Office.

"There was a risk it wouldn't be sorted on the Chinese end but it came through just about in time.

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Coronavirus: British family heads for exit flight after Chinese wife allowed to board – video. Here’s what appears to be the first picture of the evacuation plane set to bring Britons back from Wuhan, sent to the The plane due to bring Britons back from Wuhan Photograph: Jessica Murray/The Guardian.

Evacuations of foreign nationals are continuing, with 150 Britons expected to be flown out of The UK evacuation of its citizens out of Wuhan is underway. They are understood to be on Wamos Air I haven’t yet got any information as to whether that plane has left Wuhan as there is sometimes a lag in

"It was a bit frantic, there were a few false starts where we thought the flight was going to go, we were organising transport to the airport and it was called off.

"It's a long process but I think that is preferable to staying in Wuhan at the moment.

"I probably speak for most people here when I say I'm just glad to be back."

All passengers went through screening at Wuhan airport and were accompanied by medical professionals on the plane, Mr Convey added.

He said there was an isolation section at the front of the plane but did not see anybody being taken in there.

"We didn't have loads of interaction with other passengers onboard, it was a fairly normal flight," he said.

"People just doing what they normally do on flights, sitting around watching movies."

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