HUNDREDS of Brits are stranded at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak after China blocked attempts to airlift them home.
Officials have told all countries its lockdown will not be lifted for repatriation flights, a Foreign Office source revealed.
And yesterday worried Brits in the city of Wuhan — the source of the deadly illness — said they had been left without any information.
The Foreign Office has been criticised for its response to the crisis as it emerged the British embassy in Wuhan was closed over the weekend.
The city is under quarantine with air and rail departures suspended and roads closed.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had been in tense negotiations with the Chinese government to send a rescue plane for expats.
A source close to Mr Raab said: “These discussions are very complex. Hopefully an agreement will be reached soon.
“We are keen to get this done as soon as possible, but a number of things need to happen on the Chinese side before we can make any firm promises.
“Their position is understandable but we have been very clear that time is of the essence.”
Fears of a UK coronavirus epidemic were growing last night as health chiefs struggled to find hundreds of people who may have been exposed to the virus.
Around 2,000 people have arrived in the UK from Wuhan in the last two weeks. But last night only 51 had been found and tested for the killer bug —– just 2.5 per cent of the “at risk” total.
All were found to be clear of snake flu — full name Wuhan novel coronavirus.
Dr Yvonne Griffiths, 71, a lecturer visiting China on behalf of Birmingham University, said: “Wuhan has changed completely in the last few days.
“Roads are deserted. In the supermarket everybody is wearing a mask. In the hotel, where we are, everyone is wearing a mask.
“We have no news when the airport will re- open. There’s no information coming from any source — so that’s a concern.”