Evacuation flights from China's coronavirus epicenter land in UK and France
Nilay Syam and Ross Cullen

Planes carrying British, French and other EU nationals have landed in the UK and France as nations around the world scrambled to evacuate their citizens from China's Wuhan city, the ground zero of a virus outbreak.

The coronavirus has killed more than 200 people and infected more than 9,000. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an international public health emergency as the epidemic spread to 18 countries.

A chartered Boeing 747 with 83 Britons and 27 foreign passport-holders arrived at RAF Brize Norton, a Royal Air Force base in central England on Friday.

The UK citizens after disembarking were whisked away to a hospital in Wirral, Merseyside, where they will be quarantined for two weeks.

The plane will now fly to Spain, where authorities from other EU countries would take responsibility for the remaining passengers.

A second aircraft touched down at a military facility in the south of France, bringing back 180 French citizens from Wuhan who would also spend 14 days in quarantine.

"We were able to witness a lot of things: the saddest and also the bravest side of this outbreak, I feel sad to be now here, so far from what's happening," said Leo Ramirez, a journalist with the French news agency AFP, who was on the flight.

"I guess that it's a process, and I understand that we had, as a team, we had to leave, and I guess that I'm happy that me and my team, we are all safe."

The passengers will be staying at a holiday park that was chosen due to its relatively isolated location on the coast, though there is a hospital close by should any people be taken ill.

There will be regular testing for any symptoms of the coronavirus and the French health secretary has traveled to the region to oversee the process.

A second evacuation flight from China is expected to land in France over the weekend.

Source(s): AFP