Countries like the United States, Japan, and Turkey have successfully evacuated a number of their citizens from Wuhan. British citizens reached Wuhan in the hopes of taking a flight back to the United Kingdom on Thursday. Around 200 British citizens remain stranded in Wuhan after China refused to give permission for the flight to land. The military is expected to be sent in to evacuate the citizens who are cleared to take a flight back.

Earlier, it was announced that a flight was to take off from Wuhan to take stranded British citizens back to the UK. Citizens would have been screened at the airport for symptoms. Those who showed coronavirus symptoms would be held in quarantine in Wuhan, while others would be allowed to fly back. Once the evacuees land in Britain, they would be in quarantine for two-weeks.

Hours before the flight was to ferry the hopeful passengers back, it was announced that the Chinese government would not be allowing the flight. While other countries have successfully repatriated citizens, the UK failed to do so.

China Sars-like virus
An ANA plane chartered by the Japanese government has gone to Wuhan to evacuate Japanese nationals from the epicentre of the China coronavirus outbreak -- here, the plane is seen before leaving Tokyo Photo: AFP / Kazuhiro NOGI

Daily Mail reported that the UK is arranging for the Royal Air Force to take over the evacuation process. According to government sources, the RAF crew and army medics will be in charge of looking after the passengers until they reach the UK. The flight will take the cleared passengers to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where they will remain in quarantine.

However, concrete details of the repatriation plan remain murky. British citizens in Wuhan claim that they still do not have any word on when the alternate evacuation flight will take place. They are unsure how long they will have to wait in Wuhan. If the flight does not get scheduled soon, some citizens who travelled from other parts of the Hubei province will have to arrange their stay in Wuhan.

Families, like that of Jeff Siddle, have been forced to split up in an effort to leave the coronavirus epicentre. Even after managing to reach the Wuhan airport, passengers await information for the Foreign Office about the alternative evacuation plan.