Coronavirus: UK will no longer fly Britons out of virus-hit Wuhan on Thursday

A planned flight to bring British nationals in coronavirus-hit Wuhan back to the UK will not leave on Thursday as China has not yet granted Westminster permission to evacuate its citizens, the Independent understands.

Officials in Japan and the US have already advanced plans to bring home citizens struck at the epicentre of the virus in central China’s Hubei province, the location of the majority of the 132 deaths caused by the disease.

However the UK’s foreign office has said hundreds thought to be stuck in the region will have to wait as the government seeks the correct permissions to allow for the evacuation of British citizens.

It comes after 201 US citizens were airlifted to southern California, where they are currently being observed by medical professionals.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are doing everything we can to get British people in Wuhan safely back to the UK.

“A number of countries’ flights have been unable to take off as planned.

“We continue working urgently to organise a flight to the UK as soon as possible.

“We remain in close contact with the Chinese authorities and conversations are ongoing at all levels.”

Officials are looking at taking passengers to a military base once they arrive home, the Department of Health said on Wednesday, while Downing Street said the Britons returning from Wuhan had agreed to be placed in “assisted isolation”.

A source said: “We are expecting about 200 British nationals to be on board, there is capacity on the flight for everybody.

“On arrival, passengers will be safely isolated for two weeks with all necessary medical attention.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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