LONDON: Britain postponed the planned evacuation on Thursday of around 200 of its citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of a deadly virus outbreak.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he hoped the charter flight would leave on Thursday evening subject to getting the necessary clearance from Beijing.
"We are hopeful now that we will be able to do that this evening but of course, this depends on the decisions taken by the Chinese government," Raab told a press event in London.
He added: "We are doing everything we can, around the clock, to make that happen.
" London had hoped the flight could leave the central city of Wuhan on Thursday morning UK time but on Wednesday evening was forced to tell those waiting to board that it would be delayed.
"We haven't got the necessary clearances and we are working with the Chinese authorities on securing those," a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.
He said a number of countries had similar issues. The flight is due to return to a UK military base, and those on board will be isolated for 14 days at a medical facility.
The Wuhan metropolis is at the heart of the coronavirus epidemic that has so far killed 170 people and spread to at least 15 countries around the world.
China reported its biggest single-day jump in new coronavirus deaths on Thursday, deepening global fears about the extent of the outbreak.
Thousands of foreigners have been trapped in Wuhan since it was sealed off last week.
Japan and the United States became the first countries to organise airlifts out of Wuhan for their citizens on Wednesday.
Britain is joined by Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, among others, in planning similar operations.