Hundreds of British nationals hoping to flee the Chinese region at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak have been left stranded after an emergency government-chartered flight to take them home was delayed.
A plane was due to leave locked-down Wuhan on Thursday morning, evacuating about 200 Britons to the UK, where they would be quarantined for two weeks at a secure NHS facility.
But the plans were scuppered late on Wednesday as Chinese authorities had yet to grant the plane permission for takeoff, leaving British officials scrambling to negotiate.
The death toll of the virus, which has spread to at least 16 countries, has reached 170, and there are 7,711 confirmed cases in China.
The Foreign Office said it was “working urgently” to organise a flight to the UK “as soon as possible”.
With the virus spreading, British Airways has now suspended all flights to and from China.
The World Health Organisation announced on Wednesday the “whole world needs to be on alert”.