Britain is exploring ways to evacuate its citizens from China’s Hubei Province, where a strict travel ban is in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said on Monday.
“We are working to make an option available for British nationals to leave Hubei Province due to the heavy travel restrictions and increased difficulty of accessing consular or medical assistance,” the office said in a statement.
It said British nationals’ safety and security in the region is “our number one priority.”
“We continue to monitor developments and are in close touch with the Chinese authorities.”
The death toll in China from the novel coronavirus outbreak has climbed to 80, the country’s health department said Monday.
According to China’s National Health Commission, there were 2,744 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, including 461 in critical condition.
Nearly 5,800 suspected cases have also been reported.
The pneumonia situation has resulted in 80 deaths, including 76 in Hubei province and one each in Shanghai, Henan, Hebei, and the northeast Heilongjiang province, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing the National Health Commission.
In addition, eight confirmed cases have been reported in Hong Kong, five in Macao, and four in Taiwan.
The virus, which originated in the city of Wuhan, has spread across 29 provinces in the country.
More than 30 cases have been reported in Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, France, Malaysia, Australia and Vietnam.
Chinese authorities on Sunday announced plans to extend the Lunar New Year holiday, which was originally set to end on Jan. 30.
Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide, and many airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.
The World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting Thursday where it postponed a decision on declaring the outbreak a health emergency, saying it needed more information about the virus.