Coronavirus: Foreign citizens airlifted from Wuhan

Seoul/Tokyo, Jan 31 : Evacuees from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has killed 213 people in the country, arrived in South Korea and Japan on charter flights on Friday as further international travel bans went into place.

The first group of 367 South Korean nationals that arrived in Seoul at 8 a.m.

on Friday were undergoing strict health evaluations before being sent to two facilities in the centre of the country where they will remain in quarantine for 14 days, reports Efe news.

The South Koreans underwent medical examinations before boarding the charter flight.

One passenger was excluded from travelling when he was found to have a fever, according to Yonhap news agency.

This first group constituted half of the approximately 720 South Koreans who have requested to be evacuated from Wuhan.

The South Korean government plans to send another charter flight as soon as possible.

In Japan, where 14 cases have been confirmed, a third charter plane landed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo from Wuhan, this time with 149 people onboard, according to national broadcaster NHK.

All passengers will be sent to medical centres for testing.

The previous evacuation flight on Thursday brought back 210 people to Japan, with 26 hospitalized.

The government was making arrangements for the evacuation of 300 more Japanese nationals.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also announced on Friday that it his government would prohibit entry to people who have been confirmed to be infected with the virus.

Meanwhile, various other countries were implementing strict travel bans.

The Philippines on Friday banned the entry of travellers from Hubei, a day after the country confirmed its first case.

The regional government in the Malaysian state of Sabah, Borneo island, has suspended all flights from China.

The government of Vietnam had previously announced that it would stop issuing visas to Chinese tourists after detecting three new cases in its territory.

North Korea was closing all air and rail routes with China from Friday, British Ambassador to Pyongyang, Colin Crooks, said.

In Singapore, where three new cases have been confirmed, low-cost airline Scoot announced in a message that it will suspend flights to 11 Chinese cities from February to March and reduce flights to another eight.

Singapore Airlines and SilkAir also announced a reduction in capacity on selected routes between the city-state and Chinese cities.

Russia, which so far has not reported any cases of coronavirus, has closed its eastern border with China.

The US government raised its China travel alert to the maximum "Level 4: Do Not Travel" on Thursday, a category reserved for the situations it considers most dangerous, such as major crises or armed conflicts.

The US, which already has five confirmed cases, announced the first instance in the country of a person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus, hence raising the total to six patients.

Outside of China, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, other countries with confirmed cases include Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, the US, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.



Source: IANS