British plane takes off with evacuees from Wuhan

A British charter plane took off from Wuhan in China in the early hours of Sunday in the latest evacuation of foreigners from the city, which has been placed on lockdown amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The aeroplane departed at 3:20 am (1920 GMT) with 200 people on board, the British Foreign Office said. The passengers include Britons, other foreign nationals and medics.

The flight is expected to land at a military airfield near Oxford, England, on Sunday.

“Germans and their families aboard a British charter plane just left #Wuhan on their way home. We wish safe travels to all,” the German Foreign Office tweeted, thanking Britain for its “exceptional support.”

Around 20 German citizens are expected to arrive from Wuhan in Berlin on Sunday.

Nationals from Italy, Greece, Denmark and Sweden were also said to be on the British evacuation flight.

A newly discovered strain of the coronavirus has claimed over 720 lives in China with around 31,800 people infected, according to the latest figures from Chinese health authorities. The pandemic has spread to about two dozen countries since first being identified, but has only claimed the lives of two people outside mainland China.

The virus broke out at a seafood market in Wuhan that reportedly sold exotic animals for consumption – similar to the outbreak of SARS.

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