Coronavirus: Couples face separation amid British repatriation efforts in China
British couples face being split up as the Government attempts to bring citizens home from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China.
Around 200 Britons will be flown out of China on Thursday, before being placed in quarantine for two weeks in the UK.
Jeff Siddle, from Northumberland, said he has been forced to choose between flying home with his nine-year-old daughter or staying in Wuhan with his wife Sindy, a dual national.
He said: “This ordeal just turned into our worst nightmare.
“I talked to the Foreign Office in London just now and there is a flight being organised out of Wuhan airport in the next couple of days.
“But it is only British nationals who are being allowed to leave.”
Mr Siddle said his wife is a Chinese passport holder, so is not allowed on the flight.
Although the Foreign Office has put a note on Mrs Siddle’s file asking for special consideration, there are no guarantees she will be able to fly to the UK with her family.
“How can they put a family in this position – having to leave Sindy in China would be the worst thing that anyone could be put through,” he said.
“How am I going to tell Jasmine that her mum has to stay behind?”
This comes after the UK Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to China because of the virus outbreak.
A repatriation flight is due to leave Wuhan in China on Thursday.
It will carry passengers from Wuhan city and those from Hubei province who want to return to the UK.
Xi Lu, 30, grew up in Wuhan but has lived in London for the past seven years.
He said he was visiting his family and became stuck due to the outbreak.
His wife remains in the UK, and Dr Lu admitted that he was unlikely to see her “for a long time”.
Dr Lu told the PA news agency that he was ineligible for a flight back to London as he was not a British citizen, though he added that even if he could, “I can’t leave my parents behind”.
He said he flew over on January 20 despite knowing that the virus was spreading in the city in order to see his parents and parents-in-law.
“I knew that I had to take that flight even though I knew it was getting worse,” he said.
“I will come back to London based on a few conditions: both our parents are OK, the (virus) is basically gone, and I am alright to fly.
“Otherwise I will be a carrier back in London and may infect more British people.”
The virus has spread across the country and to at least 16 other countries, causing more than 130 deaths.
British Airways has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China.