Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, over 24’000 people have been infected, of whom 493 have died. The current mortality rate stands at 2.1 per cent. The latest coronavirus UK update tells us that 414 people have tested negative, while two people are receiving treatment at a hospital in Newcastle. Over the last few days, the British government has been urging an estimated 30’000 British nationals living in China to return home. The Foreign Office is organising the last flight to evacuate Britons from Wuhan, due to leave this weekend. But not all British people living in China are eager to leave. Some of them have lived there for many years and do not wish to ‘pause’ their lives.
Coronavirus UK update – Many Britons want to stay in China
After the Foreign Office issued the advice to leave China, it soon became apparent that not all British people want to leave.
Speaking to the Guardian, Andy Roberts whose family is currently restricted to leaving their apartment twice a week, said that the advice was not ‘very practical’ and involved much more than just finding a flight and flying home. He continued by saying: ” And if I did go back, where would I go? My home is here in China. We are keeping our spirits up.”
Equally, Liam Dutch, a teacher said that he was ‘conflicted’ about the Foreign Office’s advice: “It would be like putting my life on pause. Firstly, it’s highly expensive to travel 10’000 miles home and then come back again. Secondly, we do have contractual obligations, rent to pay, friends and girlfriends and, of course, our general everyday lives, which we have become accustomed to.”
Others have been grateful for the government’s assistance and glad to return to Britain. Paul Maloney, a staff member at the British Council in China, praised the evacuation efforts of the embassy. He’s now home with his wife and son.
Some have called the government’s response ‘shambolic’ saying that it only caused panic among Britons residing in China. Labour MP, Jonathan Ashworth, said that “the government has to do more to get those nationals home. You can’t just make those announcements and not offer any serious help.”
Evacuations and quarantine
Countries have been collaborating in repatriating their citizens and quarantining. Most airports across the globe are still accepting flights from China. However, in breaking news, the UK government is now considering a ban on direct flights. It may also refuse entry to all non-nationals who visited China during the last 14 days.
Italy has already banned all direct flights while New Zealand, the US, and Australia are no longer accepting anyone who’s come from China. Commercial US airlines alongside British Airways and Virgine Airlines, have independently stopped flying from there. In the absence of a joint EU-response, Germany and France are also discussing whether to refuse entry to non-nationals arriving from China directly or indirectly.
On Tuesday, Taiwan didn’t allow a cruise ship from Hongkong to berth because 30 crew members had been showing coronavirus symptoms. The ship returned to Hongkong, and the 1’800 passengers are currently undergoing tests.
WHO – coronavirus outbreak is not yet a pandemic
After initial criticism of the Chinese government’s response to the virus, the WHO has lauded its current approach: “There is a window of opportunity because of the high measures, the strong measures China is taking at the epicentre, at the source. So let’s use this opportunity to prevent further spread and control it.”
As yet, the WHO does not classify the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, the global spread of disease.