Brits airlifted from China will now be quarantined in a “secure facility” for two weeks on their return.
Officials said all evacuees will be isolated – potentially on a military base – even if they aren’t showing symptoms of Coronavirus.
The Department of Health had previously said apparently well people could go home and “self-isolate” to limit the spread of the infection.
But Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, wants everyone being flown back from the virus-hit parts of China to be housed in a secure facility for 14 days.
A health source said: “They are not just going to have their temperature checked then sent on their way.
“They will be quarantined in a secure facility for the 14 day incubation period, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms or not.”
Hancock confirmed the policy this morning, saying in a tweet: “We are working hard to get British nationals back from Wuhan.
“Public safety is the top priority.
“Anyone who returns from Wuhan will be safely isolated for 14 days, with all necessary medical attention.”
He will chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee at 4.30pm, Downing Street said.
A flight is due to leave Wuhan in China tomorrow carrying passengers from Hubei province who want to return to the UK.
Passengers may be asked to sign a contract before they board the plane saying they agree to being placed in quarantine.