A passenger who was one of the 83 Britons who arrived at RAF Brize Norton after being flown from the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in China joked that the ‘infected are coming’ as his plane landed.
Photos from the runway at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire showed paramedics, coach drivers and other staff greeting and even shaking hands with the passengers.
And one of the britons, Patrick Graham, joked about the ‘infected’ group’s arrival before thanking members of the cabin crew, who will be quarantined with them.
He wrote: ‘Thank you @wamosair staff for getting us home… they also have to go into a period of quarantine just for bringing us home!’
In another image, he added: ‘Thanks to all the police and health professionals. Also, the government officialls from the UK on the flight with us!’
And Mr Graham quipped that he was about to spend two weeks in quarantine ‘at Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ as his group prepared to be sent to Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside.
But the arrival of Mr Graham and his fellow passengers had prompted ridicule after the group were pictured being greeted by unmasked bus drivers and paramedics.
The coronavirus, which has infected nearly 10,000 people and killed 213, is known to spread easily through coughs and sneezes and close contact, and people may be contagious even if they feel well.
A passenger who was one of the 83 Britons who arrived at RAF Brize Norton after being flown from the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in China joked that the ‘infected are coming’ as his plane landed
The Department of Health had said coach drivers would be wearing ‘appropriate protective equipment’, but images showed they were wearing none, despite them being sat beside hazmat-wearing medical workers.
The group of around 83 Britons got off the Wamos Airlines flight from Wuhan after it landed at 1.30pm on Friday, before they began their journey to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside, where they will spend two weeks in quarantine.
Pictures of the group’s arrival prompted scathing responses from people on Twitter, who could not understand why the drivers were not wearing masks.
While many users seemed angry at the scenes, others couldn’t help seeing the funny side.
In another image, he added: ‘Thanks to all the police and health professionals. Also, the government officialls from the UK on the flight with us!’. He then joked he was about to spend ‘two weeks at her majesty’s pleasure’ in quarantine
Photos from the runway at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire showed unmasked paramedics and coach drivers sitting alongside medics in protective suits
User Tom Hawes wrote: ‘Why are not all of the people at RAF Brize Norton not wearing Face Masks to greet the evacuees who are about to be quarantined for 2 weeks due to it being contagious for up to 2 weeks before symptoms show.
‘Do we have some special British immunity to #coronavirus?’
Another, @Ricksimotosis, commented on the sight of a driver in a suit, tie and jumper sat next to a medic in a protective suit.
He wrote: ‘Look at the state of it!! One guy looks like an extra from Chernobyl, the other is out for Sunday Lunch at Wetherspoons!’
Despite the attempts at humour, many users were shocked that the drivers were not protected.
Pictures of the group’s arrival prompted scathing responses from people on Twitter, who could not understand why the drivers were not wearing masks
One, Bryan Smith, wrote: ‘What the FU&K am I watching??? Live on @SkyNews , the coaches just drove out of Brize Norton… ALL the drivers – NO gloves, NO facemasks… shirtsleeves… NEXT to the drivers, in the front seat – someone wearing *Full BioHazard Gear*…’
Joanne Clements said: ‘Unless the drivers are also going in to quarantine for 14 days, too, this seems a little careless as symptom-free doesn’t mean #virus free?’
And @YorkshireDaveUK added: ‘Is it just me that is slightly worried watching everybody getting off the China flight at Brize Norton and none of the ambulance staff or airport crew are wearing face masks.’
A fourth, Paul Robinson, said the sight was ‘absolutely stupid’ because medics were in a ‘full suit’, but ‘sod the drivers’.
And @tobyillingworth felt sympathy for the men, who appeared to be at risk of catching the potentially deadly virus.
He wrote: ‘Poor blokes driving the coaches from #brizenorton with no masks and short sleeves sitting next to chaps in Hazmats. Someone could have at least given them a face mask. #coronavirusuk’
Everyone who was on the flight has been checked for symptoms of infection but they have not been tested for the coronavirus. Pictured: Passengers walk along the runway with masks covering their mouths
The UK first declared its first cases of the coronavirus earlier on Friday and the country is now on high alert for more possible infections. Pictured: Some staff wear masks as they ferry the passengers away from the plane
Everyone who was on the flight has been checked for symptoms of infection but they have not been tested for the coronavirus.
The UK first declared its first cases of the coronavirus earlier on Friday and the country is now on high alert for more possible infections.
Two people believed to be Chinese tourists staying in York are now being treated at Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
The emergency flight took off after the Government yesterday rustled together arrangements for British citizens trapped inside Wuhan.
The city, which is bigger than London and home to 11million people, has no public transport and closed roads, while shops and businesses are closed under lockdown.
It is understood that nobody who arrived at the airport with a seat booked was turned away because of their health.
The emergency flight took off after the Government yesterday rustled together arrangements for British citizens trapped inside Wuhan. Pictured: Passengers leave the plane and walk past a member of staff without a mask on
England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘Everybody who has got on the plane is a well passenger.
‘If any of those passengers do show symptoms there are set procedures to isolate them during any process and remove them in any part of the journey.’
But there remains a possibility that passengers on the flight, who include holidaymakers and expats who were living in China, are infected with the virus.
It can take up to two weeks, or potentially more, for symptoms to appear so people may not know they are infected.
For this reason, the passengers will all be isolated in an accommodation apartment building at Arrowe Park Hospital.
Evacuees heading back to the UK from China today landed at RAF Brize Norton and will be taken by bus to the Wirral, where they will be kept in isolation for two weeks
All roads into Brize Norton village were closed before the plane landed. Police set up road blocks telling motorists that they will reopen once the evacuees boarded their coaches and left the area
Staff at the hospital are reportedly furious that they weren’t told this would be happening, with many only finding out on the news rather than from their bosses.
Two Labour MPs from Wirral, Angela Eagle and Alison McGovern both said on Twitter that they had not been told either.
One unnamed nurse at Arrowe Park told the Liverpool Echo: ‘Most staff heard it on the news first which is terrible, panic is the word I would use. At least warn your staff before the news. The Wirral population are worried also.’
Jane Godman, from the Wirral, wrote on Twitter, ‘Decision to have a coronavirus quarantine centre at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral is bizarre.
‘One of the busiest hospitals in the North West, with a maternity unit, in a built up area, 170 miles from where the Wuhan plane lands. Who decided this and why?’
Almost 10,000 people in 24 countries and territories have now been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus and 213 people have died, all in China
Passengers are pictured on the runway at RAF Brize Norton after getting off the plane
Passengers are greeted by workers on the runway – one of the British workers appear to shake hands with a passenger. The coronavirus is known to spread by close contact
People in Oxfordshire have told MailOnline they’re similarly concerned about the passengers being taken there.
Roads in and out of Brize Norton have been closed while the operation takes place and local residents have even reported being unable to enter the village.
Clive Manners, 44, was one of a number of shoppers buying hand wash and ibuprofen at a local Asda.
He told MailOnline: ‘I’m just taking precautions because I’m worried what might happen if any of the people on the plane test positive for coronavirus.
Ambulances, one police van, and a police car are pictured surrounding the Wamos Airlines flight as it landed at the Oxfordshire base
‘There are already two cases in Britain and now there could be more.
‘It’s madness to bring these people into Oxfordshire and then take them across the country, where they will be quarantined. What lunatic thought of that? It’s a very dangerous thing to do and puts us all at risk.’
Dean Foxton, 35, who lives in Witney, just five miles from the RAF base said: ‘I looked at the advice on how to prevent catching the coronavirus.
The Wamos Airlines plane is pictured flying over a village in Oxfordshire on its way to RAF Brize Norton
A fleet of coaches is pictured arriving at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today. The buses carried the 83 British passengers to Arrowe Park Hospital
‘I’m going to buy as much handwash as I can. I was thinking of getting a mask but will look a bit silly in one, so I’ll give that a miss.
‘It’s ludicrous that these people are being flown into our local RAF base from Wuhan. Why not take them somewhere more remote or closer to where they will be in quarantine?
‘People are scared about what could happen and how the coronavirus could spread in Britain, but the government have handled it all appallingly.’