Priti Patel has suggested the government is looking at the option of airlifting UK citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan that has been hit by the coronavirus.
When asked about reports that Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, was considering an evacuation of more than 200 Brits trapped in the city, the home secretary said the UK was “looking at all the options”.
She said there were still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, after tests on 31 people came back negative.
The Foreign Office has advised against all travel to Hubei province but not announced that it will evacuate Brits. This is in contrast to France and Japan, who are putting in place logistics to get their citizens out.
The UK government has been criticised for being slow off the mark to find and give information to the thousands of people in Britain who have flown back from Wuhan in recent weeks.
British academic Prof Martin Dove said no one from the UK government had tried to contact him regarding the coronavirus outbreak despite him having recently returned home from working in Wuhan from 3-12 January.
However, Patel insisted the government was taking “all the precautions and the right measures” working with the World Health Organization and Public Health England.
She told Sky News’s Ridge on Sunday programme: “There are many efforts being made and the Border Force provides information to Public Health England. They are contacting people and reaching out and providing screening and testing. That is in hand.”
The home secretary said Public Health England had a hub at Heathrow airport as part of Britain’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.
Later, Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the Foreign Office would continue to monitor whether to try to rescue Brits in Wuhan and would keep it under review.