UK prepares for ‘major threat’ from Wuhan coronavirus as last flight from China lands

People wearing face masks disembark from an aircraft repatriating British and other nationalities to the U.K. from the coronavirus hit city of Wuhan in China, after arriving at RAF Brize Norton, England, on Sunday (Photo: TIME)

The government of the United Kingdom (UK), as it grants special powers to local authorities, is declaring the deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) a major threat to public health.

This comes following the second and final flight repatriating British citizens returned from Wuhan, China landing safely at the RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Sunday (Feb. 9).

As of Sunday afternoon, some 795 tests were so far conducted in the UK, the Department of Health disclosed – with four testing positive and 791 confirmed negative. British nationals who have been flown back from Wuhan were being quarantined for 14 days.

Speaking on Monday Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “The incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health.”

Under measures publicised, British citizens confirmed with the novel coronavirus can now be forcibly quarantined and will not be free to leave. The Department of Health further remarked that these individuals can be forcibly sent into isolation if, deemed uncooperative or pose a direct threat to public health.

In the meantime, the Arrowe Park hospital in Wirral and Kents Hill Park conference centre in Milton Keynes are declared official isolation facilities, while Wuhan and Hubei province in China, the epicentre of the deadly outbreak, are designated as infected areas.

Sunday’s flight, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, repatriated 105 British nationals and family members back to the country.

An additional 95 foreign nationals, their family members as well as 13 staff and medical professionals were also onboard.

The Department of Health indicated that all passengers were taken to the Kents Hill Park hotel and conference centre in Milton Keynes to be quarantined.