Coronavirus death toll hits 563 as NHS prepares special facilities

6 February 2020, 06:09 | Updated: 6 February 2020, 06:58

The spread of coronavirus across China continues
The spread of coronavirus across China continues. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

China has reported the death toll from the coronavirus has risen by 73 to 563, with the number of confirmed cases jumping by 3,694 to 28,018.

The announcement comes as the World Health Organisation issued an appeal for £520 million of donations to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

It is understood the British government is considering how much to contribute, while the Irish Government pledged £425,000.

On Tuesday the Foreign Office urged all British nationals to leave China as the outbreak continued to worsen.

94 Brits have been evacuated from the epicentre of the virus on flights to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire where they were then transferred to a specialist quarantine facility on the Wirral where they will be held for 14 days.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock led a Corba meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

British hospitals will create "priority assessment pods" for patients with suspected coronavirus in efforts to prevent them from mixing with other patients.

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According to a letter from Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director for coronavirus, the pods are expected to be up and running no later than Friday.

Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital became the first place in the UK to admit patients who tested positive for coronavirus at the end of January.
On Tuesday evening, eight British nationals and their dependants left the virus-hit city of Wuhan on a flight to Auckland, New Zealand.

Diplomat Danae Dholakia said the Air New Zealand flight was delayed to allow the final passenger, a four-year-old British child, to get clearance to fly.

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Paul Maloney, who works for the British Council in China, praised the British Embassy in Beijing for getting his family, including his young son Theo, an emergency passport in order to travel.

The UK Government will charter a final flight from China to bring British nationals back to the UK in the early hours of Sunday morning local time, which is scheduled to land at RAF Brize Norton.

According to reports 165 Britons and their dependants remain in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, while 108 people have requested assistance to leave as of the early hours of Wednesday.

Mr Hancock said two patients confirmed to have the virus in the UK remain in quarantine, while a Briton has tested negative after falling ill on a flight back from China.

5,400 people on two cruise ships in Asia have been put into quarantine after outbreaks on board.

In the port city of Yokohama, Japan, health workers said 20 people from the cruise ship Diamond Princess were confirmed sickened with the virus.

A British passenger who has been quarantined onboard a cruise ship amid a coronavirus outbreak has told how all passengers have been confined to their cabins.

David Abel branded the Diamond Princess a “floating prison” after passengers were told they must stay inside, including those with balconies.

He had previously been concerned that the lack of food being provided “could put him in a state of coma” as he is diabetic, but said this had now been rectified.

Of almost 1,500 people who arrived on direct flights from Wuhan in January, all have either left the UK or are now outside the 14-day incubation period for the virus.

The WHO said it is still early in the outbreak, but coronavirus does not yet constitute a pandemic.

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