The British government is working with partner airlines to bring thousands of stranded travellers back to the UK.
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has set aside £75 million to help pay for the airlift involving British Airways, Virgin and EasyJet.
He is also calling for international collaboration between government and airlines to get marooned travellers to their home countries.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing from 10 Downing Street, Raab said where airports were closed and planes grounded, charter flights were due to fly in to bring people home.
So far, more than 1,400 Brits had already landed in the UK by charter flights from China and Peru.
Call centres triple capacity
“Those in countries where commercial options are still available should not wait, but book tickets home as soon as possible,” said Raab.
“Where commercial flights are no longer running the government will provide support for special charter flights to help British nationals back home.”
The minister also explained he understood travellers overseas have had difficulties booking flights chartered by the government.
“We normally receive over 1000 calls a day – last Tuesday we had nearly 15,000,” he said.
“The Foreign Office call centre has now tripled capacity to answer more queries from those stuck abroad.”
180 coronavirus deaths in UK
Meanwhile, the latest figures show 180 people died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the UK total to 1,408.
Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance disclosed that he felt social distancing measures had kept the number of new coronavirus cases down, easing pressure on the hospitals.
“We have admitted more than 8,000 people to hospital with this virus since the middle of March,” he said.
“That’s gone up pretty much the same amount each day for the last couple of days, which may suggest that we’re already beginning to see some effects through.
“We’re not on a fast acceleration at the moment.”
Around half the patents going to hospital were in London.
When asked how long social distancing measures might last, he refused too name a date and remarked lifting the restrictions soon was ‘premature’.
“The measures we’re taking will stop the transmission, delay the transmission,” he said.
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