A British woman offered an evacuation flight out of Wuhan says she was told to leave her 3-year-old son behind
Natalie Francis, a British woman living in Wuhan, says the UK government offered to evacuate her to the UK, but said she can't bring her three-year-old son.
According to the BBC, only British passport holders who do not hold Chinese citizenship are being offered a way out from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
Francis' young son holds Chinese citizenship, and is therefore ineligible.
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A British woman living in Wuhan says that the UK offered to evacuate her from the quarantined city — but told her she can't bring her three-year-old son with her. Natalie Francis, an English teacher at a Wuhan school, is one of several British people due to be repatriated from Wuhan, the epicener of the coronavirus outbreak, on Thursday. But in a post on Facebook, she detailed the difficult decision she faces about whether to leave her young son behind in China. She says British authorities say he is ineligible to travel because he has a Chinese passport. "So just received a lovely phone call from the foreign office in London all about being evacuated from Wuhan with my 3 YEAR OLD SON. I can go with no problem, my son however can't go as they say 'nothing can be done'," she wrote. She added that her son, who is called Jamie, suffered from pneumonia last year, heightening her fears about the spread of the virus. According to the BBC, only British passport holders who do not hold Chinese citizenship are being permitted to evacuate the city. The exact citizenship status of the child is not clear. China does not acknowledge dual citizenship, meaning that even if the boy held a UK and a Chinese passport, China would consider him only to be a Chinese citizen.
The York native told the BBC that she, her husband, and their young son did not initially plan to evacuate Wuhan until they heard reports of young children catching the virus. "My husband said if you get the chance, take Jamie and go home," she told the BBC. "All three of us are in Wuhan at the moment. Physically we are fine, but the stress of being locked up for so long... the emotional health is starting to suffer a little bit," she said. "It's rare you ever feel genuinely helpless, where there is nothing you can do, nothing you can say. It was really upsetting," she said of recieving the news from the foreign office. The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for information on the Francis family's situation. In a broad statement on Wednesday, the foreign office said it was working to organize a flight to evacuate "eligible British nationals" from Wuhan. "We are doing everything we can to get British people in Wuhan safely back to the UK," the spokeswoman said. "A number of countries' flights have been unable to take off as planned. We continue working urgently to organize a flight to the UK as soon as possible." "We remain in close contact with the Chinese authorities and conversations are ongoing at all levels," the spokeswoman added. The deadly virus has killed 170 people and infected more than 7,000 others around the world. Several countries, including Australia, the US, and the UK, are working to repatriate their citizens from Wuhan. The evacuations have been made even more challenging as several major airlines, including the UK's British Airways, have halted flights to China.
Read more about the Wuhan virus: What you need to know about China's Wuhan coronavirus and how it could affect you A mysterious virus in China is a reminder that the world isn't ready for a pandemic. Bill Gates says we should prepare for a deadly outbreak as we do for war. Everything we know about the Wuhan virus sweeping across China Videos show the shockingly rapid progress China is making with 2 hospitals it's panic-building to fight the coronavirus Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 5 things about the NFL that football fans may not know
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