Coronavirus death toll 106 as plans under way to bring UK citizens home

28 January 2020, 06:04 | Updated: 28 January 2020, 18:43

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The coronavirus outbreak has now claimed 106 lives, with the total reported cases now over 4,500, according to officials.

China's National Health Commission announced on Tuesday 25 additional deaths from the virus, which has swept across Hubei province.

As the country's health authorities battle to contain the outbreak, a spokesperson said there were now 4,515 confirmed cases across the country.

So far in the UK there have been confirmed cases, although 97 people have so far been tested.

More than 50 million people have been isolated, with China locking down cities, closing tourist attractions and extending school holidays to avoid contact between people.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are now advising against all but essential travel to mainland China and all travel to Hubei province, the region at the centre of the outbreak.

Masks are a common sight in China
Masks are a common sight in China. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, Brits in Wuhan have reportedly been told that the Foreign Office are organising an evacuation flight from the city to London Gatwick Airport on Thursday morning.

Authorities in Hong Kong announced rail and ferry services were being suspended and flights to mainland China were being halved in order to stop the spread of the virus.

On Monday Mongolia took the unprecedented step of closing its 3,000-mile border with China.

Masks have now been issued to China's military
Masks have now been issued to China's military. Picture: PA

The United States is just one country which is preparing to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.

Japan and France have both said they are preparing to fly their citizens out, with the French health minister saying anyone evacuated would be isolated for 14 days in an effort to contain the virus.

Thailand and Hong Kong have reported eight cases each, there are five each in the US, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Macau, four in South Korea, Japan and Malaysia, three in France, and two in Vietnam and Canada.

Germany, Sri Lanka and Nepal all have one confirmed case, but there have been no deaths outside China.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged anyone who has returned from Wuhan within the last two weeks should isolate themselves, avoid contact with others and contact the NHS 111 service.

He also confirmed Public Health England officials would be at Heathrow Airport to meet all flights to the UK from China.

China had expanded its already sweeping disease-control efforts by extending the end of this week's Lunar New Year holiday, the country's busiest travel season, by three days to Sunday to keep the public at home and reduce the risk infection will spread.

US health officials expanded their recommendation for people to avoid non-essential travel to any part of China, rather than just Wuhan and other areas most affected by the outbreak.

Tests for students, including English proficiency, which are needed to apply to foreign universities have also been cancelled.

Public schools and universities have been ordered to postpone reopening following the Lunar New Year holiday until further notice.

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