Coronavirus: Wuhan evacuees leave UK quarantine as 30 others from virus-hit cruise ship begin isolation

Kate Ng
People leave Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre in Milton Keynes where Coronavirus evacuees are released from quarantine today and allowed to go home: PA

Over 100 people have been released from a UK quarantine centre after they were evacuated from Wuhan two weeks ago.

The evacuees, including around ten children and a family of four, were flown out of the Chinese city, which is largely considered the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, earlier this month on a repatriation flight.

118 people were released and guests were pictured getting taxis to start their journey home after leaving the Kents Hill Park training centre in Milton Keynes for the first time in 14 days.

Paul Wilkinshaw, from Manchester, had been in the Hubei province with his wife Lihong to visit her parents for the Lunar New Year holidays when family members contacted them to warn about the virus outbreak.

He told reporters: “It feels fantastic to leave although it feels weird not having to wear a mask and gloves in public.

“The first 48 hours were hard when we were confined to our rooms, after that it was fine.”

He praised the “friendly” staff taking care of evacuees and the local community for their support, but added: “The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is sleep in my own bed.”

Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director, thanked the guests for “the very responsible compliance they have shown during their time in self-isolation”.

“In the upcoming weeks, more of us may need to spend time at home to reduce the spread of the virus and those in Milton Keynes have set the best example of how to self-isolate, while remaining calm and patient in what must have been a difficult situation,” he said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said of the newly-released group: “All 118 are in good health and pose no risk to the public – and this is thanks to the dedicated team of healthcare professionals and other staff who have worked round the clock to keep each and every one of them safe and supported.

Two people get into a taxi at Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre in Milton Keynes (PA)

“I’m incredibly proud that once again our NHS and public health teams – including at Milton Keynes Hospital and Milton Keynes Council – have gone the extra mile to deal with this situation.”

As one group of evacuees left, another arrived in the UK on Saturday morning from the coronavirus-hit cruise ship that was trapped for two weeks off the coast of Japan.

This second batch, including 30 Britons and two Irish nationals, arrived at Arrowe Park hospital in Wirral to begin another 14 days in quarantine.

According to Alan Steele, who was on the ship and is now in Arrowe Park with his wife, the quarantine period has not gotten off to a good start.

He said in a Facebook post: “11:15am only one breakfast has turned up and its stone cold. We have in our kitchen a dishwasher washing machine cooker kettle microwave and boiler which are all broke our not working at all [sic]. If this is things to come I want to go back to Japan please.”

In a second post, he said: “Supposedly 2nd fresh breakfasts turned up also cold. Who the f*** organised this and as they had 80 odd 2 weeks before would have thought could manage such a simple task as 32 people.”

On Saturday, the chief executive of Wirral Teaching Hospital NHS Trust said the previous batch of guests from Wuhan had given them a “blueprint” for supporting and helping the new guests.

She said: “This group of people are slightly different. Obviously they have come from a cruise ship rather than from their own homes over in China but we are working exactly the same as we did before with the healthcare professionals and Public Health England to make sure they are safe, well managed and comfortable while they are with us.”

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