Moment medics in hazmat suits enter York hotel where two Chinese tourists fell ill

This is the moment two medics wearing heavy-duty hazmat suits sweep through the lobby of a York hotel where a couple of Chinese coronavirus victims were staying.

Dramatic footage from the budget Staycity shows them marching through an eerily deserted reception area, despite the £49-a-night tourist spot remaining open to guests.

It is believed the medics were deployed to the hotel as part of a cranked-up manhunt to find anyone who came into contact with the two coronavirus patients.   

The pair, understood to be Chinese nationals, had been staying at the York hotel which remained open on Friday because officials reportedly refused to tell the owners their guests were the coronavirus patients. 

Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, has blasted the Government’s ‘worrying’ response after it emerged the hotel has remained open since a Chinese man fell ill there on Wednesday night and rooms can still be booked for tonight.  

This is the moment two medics wearing heavy-duty hazmat suits sweep through the lobby of a York hotel where a couple of Chinese coronavirus victims were staying

This is the moment two medics wearing heavy-duty hazmat suits sweep through the lobby of a York hotel where a couple of Chinese coronavirus victims were staying

This is the moment two medics wearing heavy-duty hazmat suits sweep through the lobby of a York hotel where a couple of Chinese coronavirus victims were staying

Guests are still checking into the £49-a-night Staycity hotel in York where a Chinese man fell ill on Wednesday night. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, has blasted the Government's 'worrying' response after it emerged that the hotel had remained open

Guests are still checking into the £49-a-night Staycity hotel in York where a Chinese man fell ill on Wednesday night. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, has blasted the Government's 'worrying' response after it emerged that the hotel had remained open

Guests are still checking into the £49-a-night Staycity hotel in York where a Chinese man fell ill on Wednesday night. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, has blasted the Government’s ‘worrying’ response after it emerged that the hotel had remained open

Business as usual! Travellers were today caught speaking to receptionists at the Staycity hotel - where the two Chinese nationals stayed before they got infected

Business as usual! Travellers were today caught speaking to receptionists at the Staycity hotel - where the two Chinese nationals stayed before they got infected

Business as usual! Travellers were today caught speaking to receptionists at the Staycity hotel – where the two Chinese nationals stayed before they got infected

Rooms at the Staycity hotel in York (pictured) are still available for around £70 per night

Rooms at the Staycity hotel in York (pictured) are still available for around £70 per night

Rooms at the Staycity hotel in York (pictured) are still available for around £70 per night

The room in which the patients stayed (stock picture, not of their room) has been cordoned off and will be thoroughly cleaned, the company said

The room in which the patients stayed (stock picture, not of their room) has been cordoned off and will be thoroughly cleaned, the company said

The room in which the patients stayed (stock picture, not of their room) has been cordoned off and will be thoroughly cleaned, the company said

Asian tourists wearing face masks leave the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York where two family members from China fell ill with coronavirus

Asian tourists wearing face masks leave the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York where two family members from China fell ill with coronavirus

Asian tourists wearing face masks leave the Staycity Hotel in the centre of York where two family members from China fell ill with coronavirus

Budget hotel chain at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak tweets out ‘#happyfriday!’ promotion… hours after two guests were confirmed as UK’s first cases 

The budget hotel chain at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak sent out an ill-timed tweet promotion…just hours after it confirmed two of its guests were the UK’s first cases of the disease.

‘#HappyFriday…Looking forward to a weekend of rugby,’ the Staycity chain tweeted on its official account.

Health authorities this morning confirmed the first two cases of the disease in the United Kingdom; and hotel management confirmed they had been guests at the chain’s York apartments.

This tweet was put out just hours after the Staycity chain confirmed guests staying at its York residence had contracted coronavirus

This tweet was put out just hours after the Staycity chain confirmed guests staying at its York residence had contracted coronavirus

This tweet was put out just hours after the Staycity chain confirmed guests staying at its York residence had contracted coronavirus

Just hours after the news, the chain put out the ill-timed tweet which appeared to be inviting guests to stay at its residences.

The Staycity apartment-hotel on Paragon Street, in York was put on lockdown on Wednesday when a man, believed to be a Chinese national fell ill. 

He was taken to hospital, along with two relatives, where they underwent testing.

Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that two people had been diagnosed with the virus and had been staying in York when they became unwell.

The announcement was made as more than 80 Britons on an evacuation flight from the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak landed back in the UK.

The pair are being treated by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in its specialist Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease Centre (HCID).

It is understood that the pair travelled to the UK from China recently. 

The Department of Health has repeatedly refused to give any details about the two coronavirus victims, citing ‘patient confidentially’, and have also knocked back questions about where and when they entered Britain and where they have been before arriving in York.

York’s rich history makes it a hugely popular stop for visitors on tours of Britain and Europe.

MailOnline understands the infected people – quarantine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne – were taken from the Staycity hotel and have never returned or collected their belongings including suitcases, clothing and toiletries, which remain sealed in their room. 

Professor Hunter says the Government had a ‘duty’ to warn anyone who may have come into contact with the confirmed coronavirus patients of the ‘risks’ – and said it was ‘worrying’ officials are being so tight-lipped about the confirmed cases.

He told MailOnline: ‘The [DoH] at least needs to tell people how big the potential spread of this virus is, and how much contact with the wider community these two have had. 

‘Why didn’t the Department of Health say something sooner?’.

Concerned guests began to check out this afternoon after learning of the coronavirus link at the aparthotel, just outside the Roman walls of the tourist hotspot. 

Michiela Saunders, 26, of Bishop Auckland, demanded a refund and checked out and has spoke of her fury that no-one warned her of the cases.

Other experts have warned ministers need to carry out ‘detective work’ in order to track down people who have been in contact with the confirmed cases. 

The World Health Organisation has warned the never-before-seen virus – mainly spread through coughs and sneezes – can survive on surfaces such as tables and cutlery. 

Around 2,000 people are thought to have jetted into Britain from Wuhan – the deserted city at the heart of the crisis – in the past three weeks, with hundreds still believed to be in the country.

It came as the UK Government’s evacuation flight landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this afternoon containing 83 Britons. 

Passenger Patrick Graham, from Wales, joked on Instagram that ‘the infected are coming’ as he was landing at RAF Brize Norton – and now face two weeks of quarantine in a hospital on the Wirral.

The 220-room Staycity Hotel in the centre of York – a short walk from the Minster – is still open today with only the rooms in the area where the Chinese relatives fell ill cordoned off

British Nationals arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on a rescue flight from Wuhan where people face two weeks in quarantine

British Nationals arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on a rescue flight from Wuhan where people face two weeks in quarantine

British Nationals arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on a rescue flight from Wuhan where people face two weeks in quarantine

Emergency staff including police in white suits get ready to greet British Nationals before they arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire as they landed today

Emergency staff including police in white suits get ready to greet British Nationals before they arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire as they landed today

Emergency staff including police in white suits get ready to greet British Nationals before they arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire as they landed today

A woman wears a mask in Newcastle upon Tyne, near where two patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are bring treated in the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary

A woman wears a mask in Newcastle upon Tyne, near where two patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are bring treated in the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary

A woman wears a mask in Newcastle upon Tyne, near where two patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are bring treated in the city’s Royal Victoria Infirmary

Almost 10,000 people in 24 countries and territories have now been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus and 213 people have died, all in China

Almost 10,000 people in 24 countries and territories have now been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus and 213 people have died, all in China

Almost 10,000 people in 24 countries and territories have now been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus and 213 people have died, all in China

Photo shows a bus driver without protective equipment driving one of a convoy of six buses out of Brize Norton this afternoon – the driver is flanked by a medical worker in a full-body hazmat suit with waving evacuees waving at the back of the bus

Photo shows a bus driver without protective equipment driving one of a convoy of six buses out of Brize Norton this afternoon – the driver is flanked by a medical worker in a full-body hazmat suit with waving evacuees waving at the back of the bus

Photo shows a bus driver without protective equipment driving one of a convoy of six buses out of Brize Norton this afternoon – the driver is flanked by a medical worker in a full-body hazmat suit with waving evacuees waving at the back of the bus

Another bus driver can be seen without protective equipment. A medical worker sits behind him in a full hazmat suit

Another bus driver can be seen without protective equipment. A medical worker sits behind him in a full hazmat suit

Another bus driver can be seen without protective equipment. A medical worker sits behind him in a full hazmat suit

A fleet of coaches is pictured arriving at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today. The buses will carry 83 British passengers to an NHS facility in Wirral, Merseyside

A fleet of coaches is pictured arriving at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today. The buses will carry 83 British passengers to an NHS facility in Wirral, Merseyside

A fleet of coaches is pictured arriving at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today. The buses will carry 83 British passengers to an NHS facility in Wirral, Merseyside

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital are reportedly furious that the Government didn't tell anyone that the evacuees would be taken there and kept in quarantine for two weeks

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital are reportedly furious that the Government didn't tell anyone that the evacuees would be taken there and kept in quarantine for two weeks

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital are reportedly furious that the Government didn’t tell anyone that the evacuees would be taken there and kept in quarantine for two weeks 

HEALTH OFFICIALS NEED TO CARRY OUT DETECTIVE WORK TO TRACK DOWN PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH THE CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS 

Health officials in the UK will need to carry out detective work in order to track down people who have been in contact with coronavirus cases, experts have said.

The first cases of the new virus have been diagnosed in England, with two people from the same family being treated at a specialist centre at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

An outbreak investigation team has been formed to trace anyone who has been in contact with the pair to prevent onward transmission.

Professor Jimmy Whitworth, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that tracking people who have come into contact with an infected case will take a lot of detective work.

He added: ‘What you don’t want is this to spread any more in the community.

‘It would be a question of essentially a lot of detective work in identifying who are the people that the cases have been into contact with, tracking them down, and monitoring and testing them. 

‘Now we believe that people can be infected before they actually show symptoms, that means cases and contacts will need to be tested to see if they are infected or not.’

The professor of international public health said that officials will likely prioritise people who came closest to the two cases.

He added: ‘At the moment, Public Health England (PHE) will be giving priority to those who will have got the closest to these individuals.

‘My anticipation is that it would be only people who were in close proximity to these individuals who would be at risk, those will be the people who they [PHE] try to identify.

‘But of course it is difficult to track people down.’

Professor Whitworth said that the test can pick up the virus even if the person is not showing any symptoms.

He added: ‘The test will become positive pretty rapidly because it is looking for the virus, so you could find out very rapidly.’

Professor Whitworth said that people who have been in China recently and report respiratory problems are most likely to need testing for the coronavirus.

He added: ‘Essentially if there is someone who has been in China recently, and has any respiratory disease, the guidance is they should be tested for this new coronavirus.

‘At the moment, the people that will be focused on are people who have been in China or been in contact with people in China – they are the ones most likely to be harbouring the infection.’

Professor Whitworth said that with only two cases diagnosed, the country’s four specialist Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease Centres (HCID) will easily have the capacity to treat patients.

But he said if the virus spreads more widely, people will have to be treated in other units. He added: ‘These units have fairly limited capacity – if the numbers start to expand, then they will have.’

A spokesperson for the Staycity group said: ‘We have now received confirmation that two guests staying in one of our apartments in York have been tested positive for the coronavirus.

‘We have been advised by Public Health England that there is minimal ongoing risk of infection to either guests or staff, and as such our York property remains open for business.

‘The apartment concerned will undergo a thorough environmental clean and disinfection by a specialist contractor.

‘We would like to reassure all our guests that we are following official advice on this matter and that the health and safety of everyone working and staying in our properties remains of paramount importance to us. We would like to wish the two guests concerned a speedy and full recovery.’ 

Public Health England (PHE) this afternoon confirmed that the two people being treated had been staying in York when they were taken unwell.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at PHE, said: ‘Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with the confirmed cases.

‘The two cases were staying in York when they became unwell. Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed cases. This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.’

Health officials told the hotel they could remain open as long as their room was sealed with their belongings inside – and the surrounding rooms cordoned off and sanitised.

Before the confirmation this afternoon, sources told MailOnline the hotel had been left in the dark about whether the customers whisked away to hospital have tested positive for coronavirus and Staycity had reportedly been in contact with PHE ‘every half hour’ but was repeatedly told it would not comment on individual cases. 

Ms Saunders checked in earlier today with a friend for a two night city break. But after learning, on Facebook, that the Staycity hotel had been home to two infected guests she demanded a refund and checked out. 

KFC worker Ms Saunders, who contracted swine flu in 2007 and was in quarantine for a week, said: ‘I am angry that we were not warned. I have a little boy at home and I don’t want there to be any risk of me catching coronavirus and passing it on to him. 

‘We booked this break ages ago, but when we arrived at reception this afternoon we were told nothing whatsoever. We found out about the coronavirus story at this hotel from Facebook and immediately decided to check out. We were not going to stop here a minute longer. I just cracked. 

‘I’ve seen no evidence of any safety measures or trying to stop guests moving around, which I would have thought there would have been. The receptionist didn’t argue about giving us a full refund, so that says something doesn’t it.’ 

Ms Saunders and her friend are hoping to find alternative accommodation in York to still enjoy their first girls weekend away. She added: ‘It should have made us concerned when we arrived at the station and saw lots of Chinese tourists in face masks. There is no way I would want to risk catching anything like swine flu again.’

As the coronavirus death toll in China today rose to 213 and the World Health Organisation last night declared a global emergency, it has also emerged:

  • There are now almost 10,000 people infected, mostly in China, with cases in 25 countries and territories including the US, Canada, France, Italy and Germany with Sweden the latest;
  • After two days of uncertainty, a Boeing 747 rescue plane carrying mainly British citizens took off from the city of Wuhan last night, touched at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. It left China carrying 83 Britons – but had been expected to be carrying 150 – it had space for 450-plus passengers;
  • Dozens of expats with seats booked were left stranded in China after being given between seven minutes and two hours to get to the airport in city with public transport shut down; Foreign Office now in ‘urgent discussions’ with EU countries about a second rescue flight back from Wuhan;
  • Wirral residents furious that the 83 Britons being evacuated from China will be housed in NHS unit in the area;
  • Scientists writing in prestigious medical journal The Lancet estimate that up to 75,800 individuals in Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak, may have been infected with the new coronavirus by January 25 – significantly more than the official toll of 2,639 in the deserted city

The budget hotel in York was told by Public Health England to keep the room they were staying in shut off and not to touch any belongings inside. But they were reportedly told to operate ‘as normal’ – despite fears the highly contagious infection can spread easily.

The two coronavirus patients are now in Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, which is one of only four NHS facilities in the country which is equipped to deal with infectious patients like this, having been on standby in the 2003 SARS crisis and the Ebola crisis between 2014 and 2016.

A total of 175 people have tested negative for the virus in the UK and two have now tested positive. The confirmed infections make England the 23rd country or territory outside of China to declare cases. 

The Government is still trying to track down 600 people who travelled from Wuhan to the UK between January 10 and 24 – of 1,466 total passengers, 162 have left the UK and 760 are now outside of the two-week danger zone. 

The sick patients are believed to be at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, which is one of only four NHS facilities in the country which is equipped to deal with infectious patients like this.  

The Department of Health has refused to reveal the ages or nationalities of the patients, or any details of how long they have been in the UK or where they had stayed before becoming ill, because of ‘patient confidentiality’.

By comparison, when France, Germany and the US declared their first cases, their governments revealed the patients’ ages, nationalities and their connections to China.

The scarcity of official information stirred panic among workers at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, where passengers on a China evacuation flight will be taken later today, with staff reportedly finding out about the quarantine on the news rather than from their bosses.

Two patients are believed to be in the care of specialist medics at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, which is one of only four hospitals in the country equipped to deal with the patients

Two patients are believed to be in the care of specialist medics at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, which is one of only four hospitals in the country equipped to deal with the patients

Two patients are believed to be in the care of specialist medics at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, which is one of only four hospitals in the country equipped to deal with the patients

Evacuees from China will later today be taken to these accommodation buildings at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside

Evacuees from China will later today be taken to these accommodation buildings at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside

Evacuees from China will later today be taken to these accommodation buildings at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside

Ambulance crews arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this morning in preparation for an evacuation flight which is bringing people back from China

Ambulance crews arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this morning in preparation for an evacuation flight which is bringing people back from China

Ambulance crews arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this morning in preparation for an evacuation flight which is bringing people back from China

A blurry Snapchat photo showed hazmat-clad workers at the University of Bristol yesterday in one of England's coronavirus scares

A blurry Snapchat photo showed hazmat-clad workers at the University of Bristol yesterday in one of England's coronavirus scares

A blurry Snapchat photo showed hazmat-clad workers at the University of Bristol yesterday in one of England’s coronavirus scares

Evacuees heading back to the UK from China today will land at RAF Brize Norton before being taken by bus to the Wirral, where they will be kept in isolation for two weeks

Evacuees heading back to the UK from China today will land at RAF Brize Norton before being taken by bus to the Wirral, where they will be kept in isolation for two weeks

Evacuees heading back to the UK from China today will land at RAF Brize Norton before being taken by bus to the Wirral, where they will be kept in isolation for two weeks 

A French military plane is pictured coming in to land at at air base near Istres carrying evacuees from Wuhan who will be put in a two-week quarantine

A French military plane is pictured coming in to land at at air base near Istres carrying evacuees from Wuhan who will be put in a two-week quarantine

A French military plane is pictured coming in to land at at air base near Istres carrying evacuees from Wuhan who will be put in a two-week quarantine

The German air force is seen taking of from Cologne en route to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, China

The German air force is seen taking of from Cologne en route to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, China

The German air force is seen taking of from Cologne en route to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, China

Wirral Council today issued a statement on Twitter to its residents confirming Arrowe Park Hospital would be operating as normal and the people flown home from Wuhan will be kept in a separate building to the inpatient wards

Wirral Council today issued a statement on Twitter to its residents confirming Arrowe Park Hospital would be operating as normal and the people flown home from Wuhan will be kept in a separate building to the inpatient wards

Wirral Council today issued a statement on Twitter to its residents confirming Arrowe Park Hospital would be operating as normal and the people flown home from Wuhan will be kept in a separate building to the inpatient wards

The rate of deaths because of coronavirus is increasing

The rate of deaths because of coronavirus is increasing

The rate of cases is also rising sharply

The rate of cases is also rising sharply

The rate of deaths because of coronavirus is increasing as it reached 213 – and the rate of cases is also rising sharpl

WUHAN CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

What is this virus?

The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild lung infections such as the common cold.

But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.

Can the Wuhan coronavirus kill?

Yes – 213 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus. 

What are the symptoms?

Some people who catch the Wuhan coronavirus may not have any symptoms at all, or only very mild ones like a sore throat or a headache.

Others may suffer from a fever, cough or trouble breathing. 

And a small proportion of patients will go on to develop severe infection which can damage the lungs or cause pneumonia, a life-threatening condition which causes swelling and fluid build-up in the lungs.

How is it detected?

The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China and countries around the world have used this to create lab tests, which must be carried out to confirm an infection.

Delays to these tests, to test results and to people getting to hospitals in China, mean the number of confirmed cases is expected to be just a fraction of the true scale of the outbreak.  

How did it start and spread?

The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Cases have since been identified around China and are known to have spread from person to person.

What are countries doing to prevent the spread?

Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.

Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.

Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?

Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere.

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON THE CORONAVIRUS 

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England said in a statement this morning: ‘We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus. 

‘The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.

‘The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.

‘We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately. 

‘We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organisation and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.’  

Scientists had been expecting a case to be diagnosed here for more than a week, since it became clear how widely the virus was spreading.  

Nathalie MacDermott, a Kings College London lecturer told Sky News: ‘I think this is to be expected. 

‘We’ve been expecting it for the last week or so at least. To some degree, a little bit of a surprise that it’s only happened now given the spread of cases overseas from China over the last two weeks.’

More cases may emerge in the coming days and weeks as more people return from China.  

A total of 83 British citizens are on board under the guard of Army medics and RAF personnel and will be taken by bus to Wirral, Merseyside to be quarantined.

They have flown home after the Government rustled together an evacuation flight yesterday for people trapped in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak. 

The patients will all have had medical testing before boarding the plane and any who showed signs of sickness would have been turned away at the airport and left in China.

It is understood that nobody who arrived at the airport with a seat booked was turned away because of their health.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘Everybody who has got on the plane is a well passenger. 

‘If any of those passengers do show symptoms there are set procedures to isolate them during any process and remove them in any part of the journey.’ 

But there remains a possibility that passengers on the flight, who include holidaymakers and expats who were living in China, are infected with the virus.

It can take up to two weeks, or potentially more, for symptoms to appear so people may not know they are infected.

For this reason, the passengers will all be isolated in an accommodation apartment building at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside.

Staff at the hospital are reportedly furious that they weren’t told this would be happening, with many only finding out on the news rather than from their bosses.

Two Labour MPs from Wirral, Angela Eagle and Alison McGovern both said on Twitter that they had not been told either.

One unnamed nurse at Arrowe Park told the Liverpool Echo: ‘Most staff heard it on the news first which is terrible, panic is the word I would use. At least warn your staff before the news. The Wirral population are worried also.’ 

Jane Godman, from the Wirral, wrote on Twitter, ‘Decision to have a coronavirus quarantine centre at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral is bizarre.

‘One of the busiest hospitals in the North West, with a maternity unit, in a built up area, 170 miles from where the Wuhan plane lands. Who decided this and why?’ 

The confirmed cases come after recent days have seen coronavirus scares around the UK with video and pictures emerging of hazmat-clad medical workers in London, Bristol and Hertfordshire.  

New Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Hertfordshire was last night evacuated in an infection scare.

In a video clip a hospital worker can be heard telling patients: ‘It’s highly unlikely, but the people who do actually test positive in any way, we can contact you in advance of anything going on.’ 

Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, which has infected almost 10,000 people across the world, can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say

Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, which has infected almost 10,000 people across the world, can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say

Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, which has infected almost 10,000 people across the world, can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say

Coaches arrive this morning to collect passengers who have been flown back to the UK from China by RAF personnel and Army medics

Coaches arrive this morning to collect passengers who have been flown back to the UK from China by RAF personnel and Army medics

Coaches arrive this morning to collect passengers who have been flown back to the UK from China by RAF personnel and Army medics 

Patrick Graham was among 83 Brits on the repatriation flight out of Wuhan last night

Patrick Graham was among 83 Brits on the repatriation flight out of Wuhan last night

Ben Kavanagh is pictured waiting for the plane to bring him back to the UK

Ben Kavanagh is pictured waiting for the plane to bring him back to the UK

Britons Patrick Graham (left) and Ben Kavanagh (right) were among the more than 100 passengers on the UK’s repatriation flight out of Wuhan last night

In this image from the evacuation flight for Britons coming home from Wuhan, China, last night, passengers can be seen wrapped up warm in coats could then be seen presenting their passports ready to board the flight home

In this image from the evacuation flight for Britons coming home from Wuhan, China, last night, passengers can be seen wrapped up warm in coats could then be seen presenting their passports ready to board the flight home

In this image from the evacuation flight for Britons coming home from Wuhan, China, last night, passengers can be seen wrapped up warm in coats could then be seen presenting their passports ready to board the flight home

People were seen wearing hazmat suits at the University of Bristol yesterday, but the university has now confirmed no-one there has been diagnosed

People were seen wearing hazmat suits at the University of Bristol yesterday, but the university has now confirmed no-one there has been diagnosed

People were seen wearing hazmat suits at the University of Bristol yesterday, but the university has now confirmed no-one there has been diagnosed

As the panic increases every day, medics dressed head-to-toe in white protective overalls and gas masks were this week filmed marching a patient through student university accommodation in London. 

The University of Bristol also confirmed a student with ‘flu-like symptoms’ has been taken to hospital as a precaution. 

A statement issued today, however, confirmed they were not diagnosed. 

A spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that the student taken to hospital last night has now been discharged and there was no diagnosis of coronavirus. 

‘We are continuing to support the student, and remind staff and students of the advice from Public Health England.’

And a British Airways plane from Hong Kong was yesterday locked down after landing at Heathrow and passengers prevented from getting off after two travellers complained of feeling unwell. 

Hazmat-clad paramedics were filmed escorting a woman wearing a surgical face mask out of the halls at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) at around 9pm on Wednesday. 

The woman is thought to have been a Chinese student studying at the university in Holborn. 

On the BA flight doors were kept sealed and passengers were prevented from getting off when it landed at 5am after two travellers complained of feeling unwell. 

Panicked passengers were reportedly told ‘this is how disasters happen’ and forced to fill out questionnaires about their health and travel history. 

The plane remained on lockdown on the runway for more than 45 minutes before the passengers and crew were allowed to disembark.

MailOnline saw one of the questionnaires which quizzed passengers about recent travel history, who they had flown with and their current health.

They were also forced to sign a form confirming they are ‘currently well and do not have any of the following symptoms – fever, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, runny nose.’ 

The UK Government’s chartered flight is currently over Europe and is expected to land in Oxfordshire at around 1pm today, where it will be met by a fleet of coaches.

A plane was chartered from the Spanish airline Wamos and it’s carrying 83 British citizens and 27 foreign nationals, mostly from Spain. The European patients will be taken to a hospital in Madrid. 

The flight left China at 9.45am local time (1.45am UK time) after all passengers had their temperatures taken and were quizzed about their health. They will be under constant monitoring for the next two weeks.

Planning of the evacuation caused uproar yesterday when it emerged the Foreign Office only gave British citizens with a seat on the plane two hours to get to the airport in a deserted city bigger than London with no taxis or public transport. 

One man said he was told at 9pm that he had to be at a meeting point near the airport for 11pm. He could not make the journey in time so has stayed behind in Wuhan.

Anthony May-Smith, who has a job in England and had intended to take just a month off to visit his girlfriend, is now stuck there until another flight is rearranged.

He told MailOnline this morning: ‘I think it’s disgraceful of the UK officials to only give us 2 hours notice, despite telling us we would be given plenty of time to get to the airport. 

‘There is still no news from them today as to what will happen in the future. I’ve tried to download the document they sent me last night to be able to board the flight… however, I am unable to do so on my phone or iPad.

Anthony May-Smith told Sky News he had been waiting for days to hear confirmation of the UK evacuation flight but has had to stay in Wuhan because the Government only gave him two hours to get to the airport

Anthony May-Smith told Sky News he had been waiting for days to hear confirmation of the UK evacuation flight but has had to stay in Wuhan because the Government only gave him two hours to get to the airport

Anthony May-Smith told Sky News he had been waiting for days to hear confirmation of the UK evacuation flight but has had to stay in Wuhan because the Government only gave him two hours to get to the airport

COACH DRIVERS MAY NOT BE QUARANTINED AFTER EVACUATION

Reading coach firm, Horseman, has sent at least seven buses to RAF Brize Norton to pick up the evacuated passengers from China.

The coaches are being driven by drivers employed by the company, all of whom agreed to do the job. 

The company refused to say whether the drivers would be quarantined afterwards, but said the buses would be ‘deep cleaned’. 

The Horseman Coaches spokesman told the PA news agency: ‘The Department for Health have procedures in place for the vehicles to be deep cleaned.

‘That is part of the process of this undertaking, which will happen as soon as the vehicles are clear. I can give everybody assurance that everything will be cleansed sufficiently.’ 

The spokesman declined to comment on whether or not the drivers – staff members of Horseman Coaches – would also have to be put in isolation.

‘I can’t comment any further on that I’m afraid,’ he said.

Horseman Coaches is a private coach hire company operating throughout Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Slough, West Berkshire and across the south east carrying more than 9,000 passengers each day, according to the company’s website.

Out of 200 people expected to be on the flight, there were just 83 British citizens who made the final cut. It is unknown whether anyone was turned away because they appeared to be ill.  

Those who did make it are expected to be screened again when they land and then dispersed onto a fleet of seven coaches hired from Reading coach firm, Horseman.

The coaches are being driven by drivers employed by the company, all of whom agreed to do the job. The company refused to say whether the drivers would be quarantined afterwards, but said the buses would be ‘deep cleaned’.   

The Horseman Coaches spokesman told the PA news agency: ‘The Department for Health have procedures in place for the vehicles to be deep cleaned.

‘That is part of the process of this undertaking, which will happen as soon as the vehicles are clear. I can give everybody assurance that everything will be cleansed sufficiently.’ 

Horseman Coaches is a private coach hire company operating throughout Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Slough, West Berkshire and across the south east carrying more than 9,000 passengers each day, according to the company’s website.

The website says the company, which has a fleet of 60 coaches, was named UK Coach Operator of the Year 2019.

The drivers will take all of the passengers to accommodation at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside – about a three or four hour drive from Brize Norton.

The group will be housed in a seven-storey NHS staff block with a pool table, TVs and Wi-Fi, as well as access to enclosed outdoor areas.  

They will be allowed to work during the quarantine but cannot see visitors in person – they will, however, be allowed to contact family friends. Food and drink will be ordered in. 

Two weeks is the maximum incubation period of the illness – the duration between someone becoming infected and showing symptoms. 

Should anyone show signs of coronavirus, which include a cough, sore throat or temperature, they will be taken 10 miles to the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital’s infectious diseases unit. 

Where are their face masks? 83 Brits step off Wuhan airlift from the heart of the coronavirus outbreak after 12-hour flight – only to be met at RAF Brize Norton by medics and bus drivers with NO protective clothing on

Passengers who flew into the UK on last night’s China evacuation flight have been met by medics and bus drivers without face masks despite concerns the evacuees might be infected with the contagious coronavirus.

Photos from the runway at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire show paramedics, coach drivers and other staff greeting and even shaking hands with the passengers, who are on their way to be quarantined for two weeks.

The coronavirus, which has infected nearly 10,000 people and killed 213, is known to spread easily through coughs and sneezes and close contact, and people may be contagious even if they feel well.

Some 83 Britons got off the flight, which landed at around 1.30pm this afternoon, and are now en route by coach to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside.

The Department of Health said coach drivers – who will not be quarantined, MailOnline understands – would be wearing ‘appropriate protective equipment’, but images have emerged of them wearing none, despite being sat beside hazmat-wearing medical workers.

Everyone on the flight has been checked for symptoms of infection but they have not been tested for the coronavirus. 

The UK first declared its first cases of the coronavirus earlier today and the country is now on high alert for more possible infections. Two people believed to be Chinese tourists staying in York are now being treated at Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

Ambulances, one police van, and a police car are pictured surrounding the Wamos Airlines flight as it landed at the Oxfordshire base

Ambulances, one police van, and a police car are pictured surrounding the Wamos Airlines flight as it landed at the Oxfordshire base

Ambulances, one police van, and a police car are pictured surrounding the Wamos Airlines flight as it landed at the Oxfordshire base

A British worker helping passengers of the plane does not appear to be wearing a face mask

A British worker helping passengers of the plane does not appear to be wearing a face mask

A British worker helping passengers of the plane does not appear to be wearing a face mask 

Another bus driver is seen without protective equipment - flanked by a medical worker in a full-body hazmat suit

Another bus driver is seen without protective equipment - flanked by a medical worker in a full-body hazmat suit

Another bus driver is seen without protective equipment – flanked by a medical worker in a full-body hazmat suit

Military personnel waiting on the runway for the passengers can be seen without protective equipment

Military personnel waiting on the runway for the passengers can be seen without protective equipment

Military personnel waiting on the runway for the passengers can be seen without protective equipment

Passengers are greeted by workers on the runway – one of the British workers appears to shake hands with a passenger while another is not wearing a mask

Passengers are greeted by workers on the runway – one of the British workers appears to shake hands with a passenger while another is not wearing a mask

Passengers are greeted by workers on the runway – one of the British workers appears to shake hands with a passenger while another is not wearing a mask

People standing beside an ambulance waiting for the passengers are seen without face masks or protective equipment of any kind

People standing beside an ambulance waiting for the passengers are seen without face masks or protective equipment of any kind

People standing beside an ambulance waiting for the passengers are seen without face masks or protective equipment of any kind

A police van is pictured close to the runway, with two passengers in the background. An airport worker and a police officer can also be seen

A police van is pictured close to the runway, with two passengers in the background. An airport worker and a police officer can also be seen

A police van is pictured close to the runway, with two passengers in the background. An airport worker and a police officer can also be seen

A bus driver wearing a face mask and a hi vis jacket on top of his camouflage hoodie as he escorts the Wamos Airlines staff away from the plane

A bus driver wearing a face mask and a hi vis jacket on top of his camouflage hoodie as he escorts the Wamos Airlines staff away from the plane

A bus driver wearing a face mask and a hi vis jacket on top of his camouflage hoodie as he escorts the Wamos Airlines staff away from the plane

A source at Horseman, the company operating the coaches, said the Department of Health was instructing its employees.

They told MailOnline: ‘I want to make clear, we have been instructed by the [Department of Health]. Our drivers are not making decisions. They are being told what to do.’ 

The emergency flight took off after the Government yesterday rustled together arrangements for British citizens trapped inside Wuhan.

The city, which is bigger than London and home to 11million people, has no public transport and closed roads, while shops and businesses are closed under lockdown.

The passengers will all have had medical testing before boarding the plane and any who showed signs of sickness would have been turned away at the airport and left in China.

It is understood that nobody who arrived at the airport with a seat booked was turned away because of their health.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘Everybody who has got on the plane is a well passenger. 

‘If any of those passengers do show symptoms there are set procedures to isolate them during any process and remove them in any part of the journey.’ 

One of the passengers onboard the flight posted on Instagram as the plane was coming into land

One of the passengers onboard the flight posted on Instagram as the plane was coming into land

They then followed up the post with the caption: 'The infected are coming'

They then followed up the post with the caption: 'The infected are coming'

One of the passengers onboard the flight posted on Instagram as the plane was coming into land. They then followed up the post with the caption: ‘The infected are coming’

Veronica Theobald, 81, was stranded in Wuhan with her grandson Kharn Lambert (pictured together on This Morning earlier this week). It is not known whether either of them managed to get on the flight

Veronica Theobald, 81, was stranded in Wuhan with her grandson Kharn Lambert (pictured together on This Morning earlier this week). It is not known whether either of them managed to get on the flight

Veronica Theobald, 81, was stranded in Wuhan with her grandson Kharn Lambert (pictured together on This Morning earlier this week). It is not known whether either of them managed to get on the flight

A man and woman are seen on the runway wearing masks after getting on the flight

A man and woman are seen on the runway wearing masks after getting on the flight

A man and woman are seen on the runway wearing masks after getting on the flight

Wamos Airlines staff are pictured at the RAF base with face masks on

Wamos Airlines staff are pictured at the RAF base with face masks on

Wamos Airlines staff are pictured at the RAF base with face masks on

Police and paramedics are on standby near the plane, which will be carrying more than 100 people who could be infected with the coronavirus

Police and paramedics are on standby near the plane, which will be carrying more than 100 people who could be infected with the coronavirus

Police and paramedics are on standby near the plane, which will be carrying more than 100 people who could be infected with the coronavirus

COACH DRIVERS ‘WILL NOT BE QUARANTINED’ AFTER EVACUATION

Reading coach firm, Horseman, has sent at least seven buses to RAF Brize Norton to pick up the evacuated passengers from China.

The coaches are being driven by drivers employed by the company, all of whom agreed to do the job. 

The company refused to say whether the drivers would be quarantined afterwards, but said the buses would be ‘deep cleaned’. 

The Horseman Coaches spokesman told the PA news agency: ‘The Department for Health have procedures in place for the vehicles to be deep cleaned.

‘That is part of the process of this undertaking, which will happen as soon as the vehicles are clear. I can give everybody assurance that everything will be cleansed sufficiently.’ 

The spokesman declined to comment on whether or not the drivers – staff members of Horseman Coaches – would also have to be put in isolation.

‘I can’t comment any further on that I’m afraid,’ he said.

A Department of Health spokesperson told MailOnline the drivers ‘will be wearing the appropriate PPE [personal protective equipment]’ but could not confirm they would be isolated.

Horseman Coaches is a private coach hire company operating throughout Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Slough, West Berkshire and across the south east carrying more than 9,000 passengers each day, according to the company’s website.

But there remains a possibility that passengers on the flight, who include holidaymakers and expats who were living in China, are infected with the virus.

It can take up to two weeks, or potentially more, for symptoms to appear so people may not know they are infected.

For this reason, the passengers will all be isolated in an accommodation apartment building at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside.

Staff at the hospital are reportedly furious that they weren’t told this would be happening, with many only finding out on the news rather than from their bosses.

Two Labour MPs from Wirral, Angela Eagle and Alison McGovern both said on Twitter that they had not been told either.

One unnamed nurse at Arrowe Park told the Liverpool Echo: ‘Most staff heard it on the news first which is terrible, panic is the word I would use. At least warn your staff before the news. The Wirral population are worried also.’ 

Jane Godman, from the Wirral, wrote on Twitter, ‘Decision to have a coronavirus quarantine centre at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral is bizarre.

‘One of the busiest hospitals in the North West, with a maternity unit, in a built up area, 170 miles from where the Wuhan plane lands. Who decided this and why?’

People in Oxfordshire have told MailOnline they’re similarly concerned about the passengers being taken there.

Roads in and out of Brize Norton have been closed while the operation takes place and local residents have even reported being unable to enter the village. 

Clive Manners, 44, was one of a number of shoppers buying hand wash and ibuprofen at a local Asda.

He told MailOnline: ‘I’m just taking precautions because I’m worried what might happen if any of the people on the plane test positive for coronavirus. 

‘There are already two cases in Britain and now there could be more.

‘It’s madness to bring these people into Oxfordshire and then take them across the country, where they will be quarantined. What lunatic thought of that? It’s a very dangerous thing to do and puts us all at risk.’

‘It’s an absolute joke!’: Furious Wirral residents slam ‘bizarre’ decision to bus 83 British evacuees 180 miles from RAF Brize Norton to be quarantined in NHS housing as nurses are kicked out to make way amid coronavirus fears 

Residents on the Wirral were left furious at the 83 Britons being evacuated from China amid the coronavirus pandemic being housed in a unit on their peninsula.

The evacuees will be taken 180 miles by bus to Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside for a 14-day quarantine period after landing at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today.

Some people living on the Wirral took to social media to express their concerns at the move, calling it a ‘bizarre’ move and an ‘absolute joke’.

It comes after doctors and nurses were given two days’ notice to move from the accommodation block to make way for the quarantined Britons. The staff were seen packing bedding, clothes and pots and pans in cars and vans. 

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside today ahead of the British nationals' arrival

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside today ahead of the British nationals' arrival

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside today ahead of the British nationals’ arrival

A block of apartments pictured today at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral in Merseyside, where it is believed British citizens flown out of Wuhan will be quarantined

A block of apartments pictured today at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral in Merseyside, where it is believed British citizens flown out of Wuhan will be quarantined

A block of apartments pictured today at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral in Merseyside, where it is believed British citizens flown out of Wuhan will be quarantined

Workmen take down fences and replace them with block and mesh-style covering outside Arrowe Park Hospital today

Workmen take down fences and replace them with block and mesh-style covering outside Arrowe Park Hospital today

Workmen take down fences and replace them with block and mesh-style covering outside Arrowe Park Hospital today

The view inside one of the rooms that will be used to quarantine one of the British evacuees at Arrowe Park Hospital

The view inside one of the rooms that will be used to quarantine one of the British evacuees at Arrowe Park Hospital

The view inside one of the rooms that will be used to quarantine one of the British evacuees at Arrowe Park Hospital 

Workers install privacy screens at the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

Workers install privacy screens at the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

Workers install privacy screens at the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

Hospital workers said today they were ‘scared’ over the Britons from China being quarantined at the hospital. One nurse told MailOnline: ‘This was just dumped on us.

‘We haven’t been fitted for masks – I’m not even sure how many we have. Everyone’s a bit scared especially as there’s now been cases in Britain.

‘They are asking us to put ourselves in harm’s way. The hospital couldn’t cope if there was an outbreak. We are creaking as it is.’

David, 54, a plumber who was helping prepare the building and works for North West Engineering, said: ‘We have been sent up here to prepare some rooms.

‘We are preparing so to make sure that the rooms have hot and cold water. We are doing the plumbing. I didn’t know I had to be here until today. It’s all a bit lastminute.com.’

One doctor told Mailonline: ‘Most people are angry that they’re being brought here. Why do we have to deal with it out of all the hospitals in the country?

‘We have a big maternity unit and care for a lot of sick children. We struggle at the best of times. One hospital porter has told me he’s going to refuse to take things over to the blocks.’ 

Residents move out of a block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

Residents move out of a block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

Residents move out of a block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

Workmen move fences at the apartment block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

Workmen move fences at the apartment block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

A workman at Arrowe Park today

A workman at Arrowe Park today

Workmen move fences at the apartment block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

A worker carries boxes outside the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

A worker carries boxes outside the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

A worker carries boxes outside the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

A site map of Arrowe Park Hospital shows the accommodation (top left, grey) for the evacuees

A site map of Arrowe Park Hospital shows the accommodation (top left, grey) for the evacuees

A site map of Arrowe Park Hospital shows the accommodation (top left, grey) for the evacuees

Tom Holmes, 56, who was visiting his sick sister, said: ‘I was a bit nervous coming here. My sister just wants to get out of here before all the coronavirus people get here. I wouldn’t want her still here if any of them get sick.’

Mother-of-two Melissa Bridge, 23, said: ‘I live nearby the hospital. I’m really worried the virus could be brought here. I’m scared for my children. 

‘Why have they brought them here? It’s not exactly in an isolated spot. They just want to dump them on Merseyside.’

Irene Morley, 72, retired, visiting the hospital for a checkup, said: ‘I don’t think they should have it in Arrowe Park because of the maternity unit in the hospital.

‘They should have gone to another hospital like the Victoria Central Health Centre in Wallasey. They’ve got a hospital there which is a lot more remote, people don’t go down there.

‘It’s completely wrong they’ve been brought here. There’s a sliding door in the physiotherapy ward which opens onto the block. There’s people going in and out without washing their hands and staff smoking outside.

‘It’s appalling. They could’ve put them somewhere else. Other countries are putting the quarantined people miles away. We only found out yesterday. They kept it all undercover so people don’t kick off. 

A fire truck and an ambulance are seen outside Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside today

A fire truck and an ambulance are seen outside Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside today

A fire truck and an ambulance are seen outside Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside today

A removal van outside flats today at Arrowe Park Hospital, where the British passengers - who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province - will be housed

A removal van outside flats today at Arrowe Park Hospital, where the British passengers - who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province - will be housed

A removal van outside flats today at Arrowe Park Hospital, where the British passengers – who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province – will be housed

Fire officers and NHS staff walk outside the housing block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

Fire officers and NHS staff walk outside the housing block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

Fire officers and NHS staff walk outside the housing block at Arrowe Park Hospital today

A worker constructs a new fence outside the block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

A worker constructs a new fence outside the block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

A worker constructs a new fence outside the block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

‘You can’t people inside for two weeks. Where are they going to go when they go outside? I think it’s wrong. They are keeping us in the dark. They are putting us at risk.’

Jane Godman, from the Wirral, wrote on Twitter, ‘Decision to have a coronavirus quarantine centre at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral is bizarre.

‘One of the busiest hospitals in the North West, with a maternity unit, in a built up area, 170 miles from where the Wuhan plane lands. Who decided this and why?’

Phillip Cunnington, from nearby Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire, tweeted his reaction to a Sky News tweet saying the evacuees were being taken to the Wirral.

He said: ‘Oh great, Wirral’s in the news, you don’t often see that, so often overshadowed by Liverpool, it’d be great to see it get some positive pub… Oh.’ 

Amanda Jelley, from West Kirby on the Wirral, added: ‘Why are the 150 people being isolated at Arrowe Park Hospital, 187 miles from Brize Norton.

People leave the accommodation blocks at Arrowe Park Hospital ahead of the arrival today

People leave the accommodation blocks at Arrowe Park Hospital ahead of the arrival today

People leave the accommodation blocks at Arrowe Park Hospital ahead of the arrival today

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital are pictured outside a main building on the Wirral this morning

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital are pictured outside a main building on the Wirral this morning

Staff at Arrowe Park Hospital are pictured outside a main building on the Wirral this morning

The accommodation block that will be used to house repatriated British nationals today

The accommodation block that will be used to house repatriated British nationals today

The accommodation block that will be used to house repatriated British nationals today

Nurses enter a block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

Nurses enter a block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

Nurses enter a block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral today

‘Arrowe Park Hospital is on a small peninsular so is that the choice to try and contain the virus? Being from the Wirral I am furious at this decision.’

The British passengers – who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province – will be housed in an NHS staff accommodation block.

They will have access to the internet but had to sign a contract agreeing to isolation before they could board the flight, and underwent temperature checks.

Helena Pisani, 54, who was visiting a friend’s sick son, saw the exodus of doctors and nurses at 8pm and again at 11pm last night at the Merseyside hospital.

She told MailOnline: ‘I went outside for a cigarette and there were so many vans and cars coming and going. Staff were carrying bedding and all sorts out.

‘One man who was helping his brother said: ‘They were told two days ago they had to get out’. I don’t know how this hospital will cope if they have an outbreak.

Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, Merseyside, where British citizens will arrive later today

Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, Merseyside, where British citizens will arrive later today

Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, Merseyside, where British citizens will arrive later today

A man works during the preparations ahead of the arrival of passengers on the Wirral today

A man works during the preparations ahead of the arrival of passengers on the Wirral today

A man works during the preparations ahead of the arrival of passengers on the Wirral today

Removal vans outside the block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral last night

Removal vans outside the block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral last night

Removal vans outside the block of apartments at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral last night

‘People think the people have been stuck here as it’s a peninsula and they could control an outbreak better. Many people are angry that they’re being brought here. Perhaps it’s because we voted Labour.’ 

Barbara Mercer, 68, said: ‘We have had much worse. We have had mad cow disease, bird flu and we’re still here. We’re not bothered. If you get it you get it. I’ve never got bird flu or Ebola so I’m not worried about getting these.’

Sylvia Helliwell, 84, from the Wirral, added: ‘I think it’s probably a good place to be put because it’s on the edge of the country. They’ve got to go somewhere.

‘I didn’t realise that there was anything going on until here I arrived here. I’m having cancer treatment but I’m not concerned.’ 

The road outside the accommodation blocks that will house the coronavirus victims once they have returned was clogged with removal vans this morning.

One van was unloading boxes of Hitachi products onto the street, while one worker said he was moving duvets out of the block to a site in St Helens. 

Fridges, TVs, and washing machines are moved into the hospital accommodation last night

Fridges, TVs, and washing machines are moved into the hospital accommodation last night

Fridges, TVs, and washing machines are moved into the hospital accommodation last night

Ambulances lined up outside Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral in Merseyside last night

Ambulances lined up outside Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral in Merseyside last night

Ambulances lined up outside Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral in Merseyside last night

A man leaving with a camping rucksack and two holdalls said he had been living in the blocks while working at the hospital until yesterday when he was told to leave.

He said: ‘I’m evacuating the block. I got told to move yesterday. I’ve been told not to speak.’

Dennis Nelson, 76, who was just leaving the walk-in centre with his son said he wasn’t worried about the quarantined people staying at the hospital.

‘They have got great facilities here and in Liverpool which is only a 30 minute drive. There’s the centre for tropical medicine if anything goes wrong.’

Barbara Patterson, 72, who is retired and was visiting the hospital for chemotherapy, said: ‘I’ve been thinking how awful it must be to be cooped up in here.’ 

Terry Haynes, 34, a chef who was visiting his grandmother, added: ‘As long as they don’t come in the hospital it’s OK. They go to the Royal in Liverpool if they’re ill. I’m a bit worried.

‘It’s strange why they’re coming here. I guess it’s because it’s a peninsula. They can close the Wirral off. They can close the tunnel and the bridge if everyone gets infected.’

And Flo Garbett, 86, added: ‘Well they’ve got to go somewhere but I don’t know why here. They will get the right treatment I guess. At least they’re near the Tropical Medicine School. It’s one of the best in the country.’ 

A 21-year-old student from Keele University, who was at Arrowe Park for an appointment with a consultant, said: ‘I’m not really concerned about it. 

‘It’s just what the hospital does which is the issue. It’s how it tries to control infections like the Norovirus.

 

‘Every time it has a Norovirus outbreak, it does not seem to contain it very well. It should be fine though because the blocks are quite separate.’

Maureen Fenton, 49, a housewife who was visited her daughter in labour, said: ‘I wasn’t worried but it seems to be spreading which is concerning.’

And David Murray, 52, who is unemployed, said: ‘I heard about it on the news. I was worried about getting it. I was just thinking – will I get it?’

Asked whether she was informed of the decision, Labour MP for Wirral South Alison McGovern tweeted: ‘No. No one has informed me. Awaiting a call.

‘Will be asking Department for Health to make sure that those being brought to Wirral be made as comfortable as possible.

How the WHO has declared public health emergency over virus 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a public health emergency of international concern in response to the coronavirus outbreak which originated in China.

The disease has killed 170 people and infected around 8,000 worldwide, with cases detected in countries including the US, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Russia has closed its 2,600-mile border with China, joining Mongolia and North Korea in barring crossings to guard against the outbreak.

It is just the fifth time the WHO has issued such a declaration.

‘Know my constituents will feel for them and will back our brilliant NHS staff to do everything necessary to help.’

Another person asked: ‘What did The Wirral do to deserve this?’ A further tweet said: ‘This is very worrying and will cause panic in the Liverpool area.’

A Wirral Council spokesman said: ‘A flight has been arranged to bring British nationals back to the UK and will land back in the UK later today.

‘Those on board will be housed, temporarily, in the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital. This is a separate building and is not a hospital ward.

‘All services in the hospital are running as usual including emergency services, outpatients and planned surgery. Staff working in the hospital will not be in contact with these UK citizens.

As the local council, we are supporting the Department of Health and NHS in any way we can.

‘We understand this is a stressful time for the people on the flight, but also their families. After a very long journey, we welcome them to our borough and trust they will be comfortable during their time here.’

RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this morning ahead of the arrival of the British evacuees

RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this morning ahead of the arrival of the British evacuees

RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this morning ahead of the arrival of the British evacuees

Chinese health official said the death toll in the country from the virus had risen to 213, up from 170 a day earlier, with the number of known cases now at 9,692.

No deaths have occurred outside China, although 82 cases have been confirmed across 18 countries.

Janelle Holmes, chief executive of Wirral University Hospital, sent a message to staff last night, saying: ‘Around 100 British citizens will be travelling to the UK from China tomorrow.

‘We will be welcoming and housing them in the accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital. Before arrival they will be screened for symptoms. If anyone becomes unwell after arrival they will be treated following appropriate protocols.’

What do we know about the Wuhan coronavirus?

Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

At least 213 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 9,800 have been infected in at least 21 countries and regions. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be 100,000, or even as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases.  Here’s what we know so far:

What is the Wuhan coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It is currently named 2019-nCoV, and does not have a more detailed name because so little is known about it.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

WHERE HAS THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SPREAD TO?

The vast majority of confirmed infections of the Wuhan coronavirus have been diagnosed in China.

But 25 countries or territories outside of the mainland have also declared infections: 

COUNTRIES

CHINA

THAILAND

JAPAN

SINGAPORE

HONG KONG

SOUTH KOREA

AUSTRALIA

TAIWAN

MALAYSIA

MACAU

US

FRANCE

GERMANY

VIETNAM

UAE

CANADA

UK

ITALY

RUSSIA

SWEDEN

PHILLIPINES

INDIA

FINLAND

NEPAL

SRI LANKA

CAMBODIA

TOTAL 

CASES

9,755

19

17

16

12

11

9

9

8

7

6

6

6

4

4

3

2

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

9,905

DEATHS

213

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

213

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started seeing infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died. 

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

Where does the virus come from?

Nobody knows for sure. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of the virus in Wuhan came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.

Bats are a prime suspect – researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a recent statement: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.’

And another scientific journal article has suggested the virus first infected snakes, which may then have transmitted it to people at the market in Wuhan.

Peking University researchers analysed the genes of the coronavirus and said they most closely matched viruses which are known to affect snakes. They said: ‘Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV,’ in the Journal of Medical Virology.

Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don't realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don't realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.  

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. 

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, yesterday said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has so far killed 213 people out of a total of at least 9,800 officially confirmed cases – a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed.

Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.  

Can the virus be cured? 

The Wuhan coronavirus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?   

The outbreak has not officially been confirmed as either an epidemic or a pandemic yet. This is likely because, despite the global concern, the number of people who have been confirmed to be infected is still relatively low.

A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organisation as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

An epidemic is when a disease takes hold of a smaller community, such as a single country, region or continent. 

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