Wearside dad to miss coronavirus evacuation flight after no guarantee his daughter would be onboard

A Wearside dad has revealed that he will not be on an evacuation flight to bring British nationals back to the UK from the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak because he could not get confirmation his daughter would be allowed onboard.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 7:20 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 11:57 am
A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant in a neighborhood in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong Province. (Chinatopix via AP)
A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant in a neighborhood in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong Province. (Chinatopix via AP)

Chris Hill, originally from Washington but who lives in Wuhan with his wife and four-year-old daughter, told the Press Association he chose not to use the repatriation flight scheduled for Thursday night after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) could not confirm his daughter would be allowed onboard.

As Mr Hill's young daughter Renee is a Chinese national, the FCO could not say if she would be allowed on the flight.

He said: "I told them immediately, I said 'Oh OK so you cannot confirm in any way that they could travel with me', and they said 'We're trying our best but we can't guarantee anything,' so I said 'No, I'm not going'.

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"With the current situation and the way the FCO is handling the diplomatic side of things, I'm just losing faith."

Mr Hill criticised the planning of the repatriation flight as he was told to be at the airport just minutes before the deadline imposed by the FCO.

He said: "I live about 45 minutes away from the airport and Wuhan has a complete traffic ban.

"Family is family. Would you be willing to give up your leg for it to save you, or would you give up your leg to just get out of an area?

"If they allowed my daughter to go with me, it would mean that I would have to take my daughter to England but leave her mother in Wuhan.

"She knows that people are ill, and she knows not to spend time around many people, but I did ask her, if Daddy had to go back home and you had to stay here would you want me to go, and she said no."

The flight is due to leave Wuhan city at 7am local time on Friday, which is 11pm on Thursday UK time.