British expats in Wuhan furious as UK delays their repatriation

British expats in Wuhan furious as UK delays their repatriation

British expats in Wuhan furious as UK delays their repatriation

In spite of British expat anger about international media coverage of Wuhan’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, Brits are even more angry at the lack of any official efforts to get them out.

Expats living and working in the city as well as academic visitors from British universities have been calling for repatriation since it became obvious the virus would become a serious threat and the city’s airport was closed. Dr Griffiths, a professor in Wuhan on a visit with several colleagues told the media their coverage had been extensive, but didn’t include British students and academics at risk due to their being stranded in the city. She added she wasn’t sure whether the delay in repatriation was caused by a governmental lack of concern or whether it was simply a lack of planning, but said she and other British university staff were disappointed and frustrated.

She and her colleagues had been scheduled to return to the UK last Monday, but no updates as to when they can leave have yet been received. According to the British Foreign Office, a charter flight is being arranged in order to evacuate some 200 diplomats and citizens, but when Dr Griffiths rang the consulate last Saturday, no-one answered as, after all, it was the weekend. She and her daughter described the city as having empty streets, adding they’d been advised not to leave their hotel.

The 81-year old grandmother of a British PE teacher had been on a visit when the news broke and is now terrified to go outside as she is already suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and fears a virus infection would kill her. She only has a week’s supply of her vital medicine left. After a day attempting to contact the consulate, another angry expat told colleague he thinks London believes they’re all dead.

Apparently, by Sunday evening, the British government finally realised the situation was serious and are now devising an airlift for the British nationals in the city. The situation has been complicated by the large number of foreign students and expats working in the city, the vast majority of whom are concerned they may well catch the virus should they not be allowed to leave. Some attempted to contact the British Embassy in Beijing, which was also closed for the weekend, and there’s no information as to when even pre-arranged evacuation flights will be allowed to depart.

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