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Irish people face scramble to find flights after advice to leave China to escape virus

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Help: Residents volunteer to take the temperature of passengers at a bus stop at a border town in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Help: Residents volunteer to take the temperature of passengers at a bus stop at a border town in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Help: Residents volunteer to take the temperature of passengers at a bus stop at a border town in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Irish people advised to leave China face a scramble to get out on increasingly scarce flights.

The Department of Foreign Affairs advised people to leave amid the coronavirus crisis unless their presence in the country was essential.

The message posted on the department's website, which is still dated January, says it "advises citizens to contact their travel agency or airlines regarding available routes out before any further restrictions may be imposed".

However, those who have family, work and home obligations are expected to stay in China despite the lockdown in many areas and the infection of more than 20,000 with the virus and a death toll of 427.

For those who want to leave, flying out of the epicentre of the virus outbreak in Wuhan is impossible.

A department spokesman did not respond to queries on whether it will help with repatriation.

Airlines around the world are reducing or stopping their services to the Chinese mainland.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have grounded their flights due to the outbreak.

Several others are continuing to operate flights, including Air China, China Southern Airlines, and Shenzhen Airlines.

Those which have reduced their services are Air Canada, Air India, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, LOT Polish Airlines and Philippines Airlines.

Three Irish nationals travelled on a rescue flight last week organised by the British air force to bring more than 100 people to the UK from Wuhan.

Irish Independent