Flight into the danger zone: China sends planes to bring ‘stranded’ overseas residents back home to Wuhan… but who would be brave enough to board?
- China has chartered two planes to bring back citizens to the virus-striken city
- There are 117 nationals from Hubei province in Bangkok, Thailand, at present
- And a further 100 in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, willing to take the flight home
It might seem illogical, but some Wuhan residents are desperate to get home to be with their families and friends.
China has chartered two planes to bring 117 nationals from Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak is centred, staying in Bangkok, Thailand, and a further 100 in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, back to the virus-stricken city.
The citizens are ‘willing to take the chartered flights back to Wuhan as soon as possible’, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.
Most have been desperate to get out of the city, with nations including the US, France, South Korea and the UK all organising flights to bring their citizens home.
People wearing protective facemasks in Bangkok, Thailand (pictured). There are 117 Wuhan residents in the city who are understood to be desperate to return home
Most are desperate to get out of Wuhan. Pictured above are buses carrying South Korean evacuees this morning following their repatriation from the virus-stricken city
The city of 11 million has since experienced an unprecedented lockdown, preventing residents from leaving in a bid to stop the deadly virus from spreading further.
The charter flights are expected to arrive in Wuhan at 1200 and 1300 GMT on the same day.
‘The charter flights adopt the principle of voluntary ticket purchase,’ the CAAC added.
China’s foreign affairs ministry said earlier on Friday that the country would bring Wuhan residents back from overseas ‘as soon as possible’ due to the ‘the practical difficulties that Chinese citizens from Hubei, especially Wuhan, have faced overseas’.
This comes after a number of airlines announced they were halting or reducing flights to China as the country struggles to contain the spread of a deadly new virus.
Chinese citizens from Hubei province, Wuhan are being flown back from Bangkok, Thailand, and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (pictured)
China is chartering two flights to bring nationals in Thailand and Malaysia back to their loved ones in the Virus-stricken city. (File photo)
On Monday, Malaysia banned visitors from Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province as well.
The topic was trending online on Friday, with over 67 million views and 21,000 discussion posts on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo.
‘These people probably don’t want to go back (to Wuhan),’ said one.
Another questioned if residents should be brought back if they were not infected.
When asked about the suspension of international flights at a press conference on Thursday, Zhu Tao of the CAAC said authorities were coordinating arrangements to bring travellers home.
More than 8,200 cases have been confirmed in 22 countries and territories around the world
While most people are rushing to get out of Wuhan, a few are desperate to return to their families. Pictured above is a South Korean plane landing in Seoul, the capital, carrying citizens that were stuck in the locked down city
Hospitals have been overwhelmed in Wuhan. AFP reporters saw long queues, with some patients saying they lined up for two days to see a doctor.
As fears of the outbreak have spread overseas, prominent figures in Chinese communities in Italy have warned of episodes of ‘latent racism’ against their compatriots by Italians fearful of catching the virus.
China has advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled overseas group tours, while several countries including the United States, Germany, Britain and Japan have urged their citizens to avoid travel to China.