Sunderland dad chose to stay in coronavirus-hit Wuhan to keep his family together

A Sunderland man who has remained in coronavirus-hit Wuhan to be with his wife and family is worried he will be forgotten by the UK Government.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 6:02 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 8:57 am
A woman wears a mask in Newcastle, near where two patients, who have tested positive for coronavirus elsewhere in England, are bring treated in the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary's high consequence infectious disease unit. Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Chris Hill, 38, is one of the Britons who has chosen to remain in the country where he lives with his wife, Caitlyn Gao, and daughter, Renee Gao, who are both Chinese citizens.

The Foreign Office (FCO) said it would have "limited" ability to help Britons in China after it made the decision to withdraw all but essential staff from the country.

Mr Hill told the PA news agency: "My only worry now is after everybody pulls out the FCO will forget about those who are staying and not give any support for us."

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"For British nationals that are staying in Wuhan, but also in China, to have the consulate and embassy evacuating, it's not a good sight to see really, is it?

"My concerns would basically be that they're going to completely write off China in the long run. Even though they say that they are trying, it's also a fear that with pulling all the staff out, they're just going to go 'out of sight, out of mind' kind of thing."

Mr Hill, who is originally from Washington, said he received a call from the FCO on Saturday morning saying he, his wife and daughter would be able to get on an evacuation plane bound for France.

But his wife is unable to leave because she works as a nurse at a hospital and is also unwilling to abandon her parents.

"I am not willing to leave her behind and take my daughter," Mr Hill said. "It's either we all go or we all stay in Wuhan, which I told the FCO officer and she was shocked at my answer but respected my choice to not break up the family."

Dozens of UK nationals arrived back in the country on Friday after being flown out of China and were driven to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, where they will spend two weeks in quarantine.

The FCO has been contacted for comment.