A British man on the ‘last direct flight from China to the UK’ has slammed the Government as ‘passive’ after he was able to stroll through Heathrow without being screened for the deadly coronavirus.
London-born Navjot Singh, 40, and his family boarded Air China plane from Chengdu last night after becoming stranded while visiting his Chinese wife’s parents for the Lunar New Year.
The couple and their two-year-old daughter were left to fend for themselves when all three of their return flights were cancelled – as major airlines scrambled to prevent the virus spreading on British soil – and the Foreign Office refused to help.
When they touched down at Heathrow they were able to walk straight through customs without being checked for the virus – sparking fears the Government is not taking the threat of an outbreak seriously.
Mr Singh told MailOnline: ‘The senior cabin crew told me that Air China is suspending all flights to the UK from Chengdu at least, but not sure if the same will apply from other Chinese cities or other Chinese airlines.
‘We had to take Shanghai to Chengdu to Heathrow as all other flights were cancelled or suspended.
I believe the attitude towards this virus is a very passive one in the UK, you just have to see the attitude of the people here. We landed at Heathrow and nobody is wearing masks, and there are no posters or anything warning people how to report any symptoms to someone.
‘While the Air China cabin crew did temperature checks and asked all passengers to fill in health forms, the most shocking thing was that nobody at UK Border Force at Heathrow arrivals checked anyone’s temperature, there were no leaflets, no information to warn passengers, nothing.’
The Foreign Office yesterday told all 30,000 UK nationals stuck in mainland China to return to the UK in a desperate bid to protect their health as the epidemic’s death toll surged to nearly 500 and infections soared to more than 24,500.
But the announcement was met with fury as it emerged all evacuees outside of Wuhan – the city at the centre of the outbreak – must find their own way out, despite major airlines suspending all flights to China and cities being put on lockdown.
London-born Navjot Singh, 40, with his wife and two-year-old daughter on the ‘last flight’ from Chengdu to Heathrow last night
The family were able to stroll through Heathrow Airport without any screening – sparking fears the Government is not taking the threat of an outbreak seriously
Passengers on the Air China flight were given health forms to fill out – but no one inspected them when they landed in the capital
The Foreign Office yesterday warned all 30,000 UK nationals stuck in mainland China to return to the UK in a desperate bid to protect their health as the death toll surged to nearly 500 and infections rose to more than 24,500
Jo Jones, a Briton who has been teaching English in Beijing for three years, told MailOnline returning to Britain was impossible if she wanted to work in China again because her employers were threatening to tear up her visa and work permit if she downed tools and fled to the UK.
Briton Stuart Morris, who lives in the port city of Guangzhou, attacked the Government for failing to give him any guarantees that his Chinese wife and child would be allowed back into Britain.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab revealed there will be just one more UK-led evacuation flight. He said people in Wuhan would now be able to instead hitch rides out of the disaster zone on other countries’ planes.
Just 100 of 300 British nationals living in Wuhan have been airlifted out so far.
Andy Roberts, a university lecturer, wrote to The Guardian to say he is currently housebound with his wife in Ningbo and he believes finding a flight would be difficult.
Since January 20 almost 500 people have been killed by the Wuhan coronavirus – all in mainland China excluding one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong
Almost 25,000 people have been infected around the world, including the UK, US, France and Australia
Jamie Morris, 23, from New Tredegar in Wales, said he had not been able to get on any of the flights back to the UK (pictured with his girlfriend Camilla)
The UK Government is reportedly considering stopping all direct flights from China to the UK and preventing non-British people from entering the country if they have been in China in the past two weeks.
Pictured, passengers wearing face masks at London Heathrow this month
He has been married to his wife, a 39-year-old Chinese national, for 14 years.
and she has previously lived in the UK for 10 years.
The 59-year-old said they are restricted to staying in their apartment and only one family member is allowed to visit the supermarket every two days.
‘The UK advice is not very practical as getting to an airport and finding a flight would be difficult right now,’ he said.
‘And if I did go back where would I go? My home is here in China.
‘We are keeping our spirits up; I’m cycling everyday on my indoor trainer, escaping to Zwift virtual worlds, while my wife is working out from YouTube Zumba clips.
The cats aren’t fussed.
‘At the moment we can still walk round the compound as long as we have masks on and we stop and chat to neighbours, albeit from a distance.’
Liam Dutch, a 26-year-old teacher in Shenzhen, told the newspaper he was ‘conflicted’ about the British government’s advice to leave.
‘Many of us have spent a lot of time building new lives here, it is not simply a case of ‘booking a flight home to then return at an unknown date’,’ he said.
‘It would be like putting my life on pause.
‘Firstly, it’s highly expensive to travel 10,000 miles home, and then come back again. Secondly, we do have contractual obligations, rent to pay, friends and girlfriends and of course, our general everyday lives, which we have become accustomed to.’
Currently, the UK has no routine screening of people arriving from China because there is such a slim chance of them showing symptoms during the time they are in the airport, MailOnline understands.
There are, however, health checks for people being evacuated from the Hubei province at the heart of the outbreak, and doctors on standby at London Heathrow for anyone who becomes ill.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government is ‘taking no chances’ with British citizens at risk of coronavirus.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Mr Hancock said the advice was a ‘science-led approach’ based on the severity of the virus and its impact in China.
Asked how logistically Britons are expected to return to the UK, he told BBC Breakfast: ‘There are still commercial flights available.
‘The principle that we are taking is that we want to take no chances with this virus.
We want to take a science-led approach.
‘The approach we have been taking is very much driven by the advice of the chief medical officer. This is a very serious virus and having a very serious impact in China.
‘There are two cases only here in the UK but we do expect more, so we are taking no chances.’
Mr Singh, an author, and his family were trapped in the village of Dinggou in eastern China after their return flights were cancelled repeatedly in the wake of the epidemic.
He said their holiday was turned upside down after a woman in a nearby village was believe to be infected
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