Chinese officials were concerned Boris Johnson had apparently not sent a personal message of support to Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak, his father has revealed in an accidental email to the BBC.
Stanley Johnson met Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming and emailed his worries to British officials, but copied in the BBC.
“Re the outbreak of coronavirus, Mr Liu obviously was concerned that there had not yet – so he asserted – been direct contact between the PM and Chinese head of state or government in terms of a personal message or telephone call,” Mr Johnson wrote.
So far, the coronavirus has killed 563 people, all but two of them in China, and infected 28,018. Some 240 cases have been confirmed outside China.
The Foreign Office has urged all British nationals to leave China due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Johnson also said he had raised the possibility of his son visiting China in October to attend the COP15 international conference on biodiversity.
Mr Liu later tweeted: “Thank you Mr Stanley Johnson for expressing your sympathy and support to the Chinese people who are fighting the novel coronavirus.
“With the support of British friends, we have the confidence and capability to beat the virus!”
A spokesperson for the government told the BBC it had been in “close contact with the Chinese authorities since the start of the outbreak”.
Some 94 UK nationals and their family members have been evacuated from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, to Britain, on two flights which arrived on Friday and Sunday.
They were taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, where they will spend 14 days in quarantine.