The US launched an emergency mission to repatriate 240 citizens yesterday, with a flight out of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport.
On board the flight, which left before dawn local time, was diplomats from the US Consulate as well as other American citizens. One British dual national also boarded the flight. It is unclear whether any medics were on board to monitor passengers for signs of infection.
It made a refuelling stop in Alaska and was due to fly on to Ontario, California – but it has since been diverted to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, where it is expected to land in the next few hours.
Passengers were screened before initially boarding in Wuhan, and then went through follow-up checks at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska. The will be screened again once they arrive in California. It is thought they will be quarantined for at least 72 hours.
The Chinese partners of US citizens were banned from the rescue flight, reportedly at the demand of Beijing.
Japanese officials also chartered a flight from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport to rescue 206 citizens stuck in the coronavirus-hit city.
The plane landed back at Haneda Airport in Tokyo this morning at around 9am local time after flying to Wuhan overnight.
The flight was carrying emergency relief supplies including 15,000 masks, 50,000 pairs of gloves and 8,000 protective glasses for medics in Wuhan. Around four medical officials were also on board to monitor returning passengers.
Officials confirmed passengers would be tested for the coronavirus strain. Japan Times the evacuees would be asked to remain at home and isolate themselves to prevent the potential spread.
France’s health minister Agnes Buzyn confirmed a plane will be sent for its stranded citizens on Thursday, to return home on Friday or Saturday. No further details have been given.
There are some 800 French citizens stranded in the Wuhan area. She said French nationals will be held in quarantine for two weeks on arrival to stop the virus spreading on home soil.
The European Union meanwhile said it would co-fund an airlift effort at France’s request, so that more than 100 nationals from other EU nations could be repatriated along with French citizens.
Australia is planning to evacuate its citizens from the epicentre of the deadly virus outbreak in China and quarantine them on an island used to detain asylum seekers.
No confirmed details have been given, with officials still thrashing out details with Chinese officials. But it is thought Australia will work with New Zealand on the operation and would seek to help Pacific nations evacuate their citizens where possible.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they would be held in quarantine for 14 days on Christmas Island, known for its notorious immigration detention centre used to detain asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat.
Morrison said ‘vulnerable’ Australians – including children and the elderly – and short-term visitors to Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province would be prioritised in extraction efforts.
WHO ELSE IS PLANNING ON EVACUATING RESIDENTS FROM WUHAN?
India Local media reported the Indian government will request clearance from Beijing to take more than 250 citizens out of Wuhan and that a Boeing 747 in Mumbai is on standby.
Indonesia Jakarta said there are more than 230 Indonesians in China – roughly 100 in Wuhan and the rest in Hubei province. The foreign ministry said yesterday it has yet to decide on an evacuation plan.
Malaysia Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said this morning that Kuala Lumpur was keen to send a plane to Wuhan to evacuate some 78 Malaysians stranded in the city.
Philippines The foreign ministry said today it would evacuate citizens in Hubei on a chartered flight, and asked nationals in the area to contact the Shanghai consulate.
Sri Lanka Colombo said yesterday there were roughly 860 Sri Lankan students in China. The foreign ministry said it is awaiting a response from the Chinese authorities to operate a Sri Lankan airlines charter flight to Wuhan to evacuate some 32 Sri Lankan students and their relatives.
South Korea Seoul will send chartered planes to Wuhan this week, the foreign ministry said, to return hundreds of its citizens to South Korea on Thursday and Friday.
Thailand Thailand’s premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha said yesterday the country was waiting for authorisation from Chinese officials before evacuating people, but that aircraft and doctors were on standby.
Germany Berlin has not confirmed any evacuation plan but said it is considering options for roughly 90 citizens reportedly in Wuhan.
Spain Spanish officials are working with China and the European Union to take Spanish nationals out of the area, the foreign minister said.
Algeria President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has asked the government to take all measures needed to bring home 36 Algerians, most of them students, living in Wuhan, according to state agency APS.
Morocco About 100 people, mostly students in Wuhan, will be evacuated, according to local media.