Coronavirus kills 56 as UK tells Brits to leave Hubei province

26 January 2020, 16:14 | Updated: 26 January 2020, 16:16

A number of Chinese cities remain on lockdown after the virus kills 56 people
A number of Chinese cities remain on lockdown after the virus kills 56 people. Picture: PA Images

The coronavirus spreading across the globe has killed 56 people - and the UK government has told Britons in Hubei province they should leave if possible.

The latest figures show that the virus, which Chinese health authorities say is becoming more contagious, has infected almost 2,000 people and sparked a mass lockdown of cities in Hubei province.

Cases have so far been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the US, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Australia and Canada.

The Department for Health and Social Care has confirmed that 52 people in the UK have now been tested and given the all-clear for the deadly virus.

Health officials have warned the incubation period for the infection is an estimated 14 days.

Medical workers have been among those infected, and Wuhan media confirmed yesterday that a 62-year-old doctor had died of the virus.

Those killed have mostly been middle-aged or elderly people, usually suffering from conditions that weaken their immune or respiratory system.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice to the country, recommending "against all travel to Hubei Province".

"If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so," reads the update.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Government is "looking at all options" to help Britons in Wuhan leave the area.

The US consulate in Wuhan confirmed on Sunday it would be evacuating its personnel and a number of private citizens, while a flight from Beijing will fly US citizens directly to San Fransisco.

As a case of coronavirus was confirmed in France on Friday, the first in Europe, French carmaker PSA Group said it will evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and bring them to France.

France's foreign ministry said it was working on "eventual options" to evacuate French citizens from Wuhan "who want to leave".

Meanwhile, the Chinese government stepped up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings while rushing medical staff and supplies to Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, which remains on lockdown.

Around China, authorities cancelled a host of Lunar New Year events and closed major tourist destinations and cinemas, hitting profits to local businesses.

LBC's Correspondent in Beijing, Paddy Fok, reports the Chinese government have set up a special task force to deal with the outbreak.

Two new hospitals are being rapidly built to help treat the outbreak
Two new hospitals are being rapidly built to help treat the outbreak. Picture: PA Images

Beijing's Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland closed and people cancelled restaurant reservations before the holiday, normally a time of family reunions, sightseeing trips and other festivities in the country of 1.4 billion people.

Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak where 11 million residents are on lockdown, have implemented a ban on most vehicle use including private cars from Sunday.

Authorities in Wuhan have begun construction on a 1,000-bed hospital and plans for a second are already being drawn up.

The city said both facilities would be completed by February 3 and will specialise in virology.