The coronavirus outbreak has dominated headlines for the past few weeks as officials rush to keep the spread of the new viral infection contained.
In the last couple of days, the British government has taken the decision to evacuate British nationals from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the virus.
Around 200 British nationals were originally scheduled to fly out of Wuhan on Thursday 30 January 2020. Due to delays in getting permissions, they are now expected to fly home a day later, on Friday 31 January.
Officials have assured the public that the government is pushing to organise a flight as soon as possible.
Workers produce masks at the Thai Hospital Product Company Ltd. factory in Bangkok (Photo: JONATHAN KLEIN/AFP via Getty Images)
What will happen to evacuated Brits on their return?
As a precaution, returning Brits will be quarantined at a secure NHS facility for 14 days upon their return.
This quarantine period was confirmed by UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who tweeted on 29 Jan, “We are working hard to get British nationals back from Wuhan.”
He added that “public safety is the top priority.”
Are returning Brits likely to have contracted coronavirus?
Though the government hasn’t made any comment on testing or treatment of returning British nationals, it is thought that they will be tested with a throat swab when they land, determining whether any have contracted the virus.
Those who test positive could be put in quarantine, whilst those already showing symptoms will likely be taken to hospital.
Coronavirus can take time to incubate before symptoms appear. The purpose of the 14 day quarantine is a precaution in case any returning British nationals begin to show symptoms that they hadn’t upon arrival.
Travellers wearing masks as protection against the coronavirus (Photo: BORIS ROESSLER/dpa/AFP via Getty Images)
Are people in the UK likely to get infected?
Almost 100 people across the UK have been tested for coronavirus, and all results so far have come back negative.
Although nobody has yet contracted coronavirus in the UK, the NHS is preparing to deal with cases as several experts warn that the virus will eventually reach the UK.
Prof Neil Ferguson told The Guardian that the UK will see a case of the virus “sooner or later”, given the large numbers of Chinese tourists across Europe.