Countries plan to evacuate citizens from China

Coronavirus: Countries plan to evacuate citizens from China

A Boeing 767-300ER plane chartered by the Japanese government, believed to be carrying evacuated Japanese nationals living in Wuhan landed at Haneda airport amid an outbreak of coronavirus in China, in Tokyo, Japan January 29, 2020. (Reuters Photo)

Thousands of foreigners are among millions of people stuck in the central Chinese city of Wuhan as the country struggles to get to grips with the spread of a SARS-like virus which has claimed 132 lives nationwide.

These are the plans so far by foreign governments to evacuate their citizens from the epicentre of the outbreak:

A plane chartered by the Japanese government was in Wuhan early Wednesday, and set to return to Tokyo, starting with around 200 Japanese nationals who have been stranded in Wuhan.

There are roughly 650 Japanese citizens in the area who have said they want to be evacuated, authorities said.

The foreign ministry said Tuesday it was working on a plan to transport home all Australian nationals, most of whom it said are dual nationals.

Officials added they had received about 400 calls from Australians in China registering for evacuation.

Canberra does not have a consulate in Wuhan but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government is negotiating with Chinese officials over the arrangements.

He said officials are talking to the United States and Britain about the plans and working with New Zealand on a possible joint evacuation effort.

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.

Jakarta said there are more than 230 Indonesians in China -- roughly 100 in Wuhan and the rest in Hubei province. The foreign ministry said Tuesday it has yet to decide on an evacuation plan.

The foreign ministry said it was discussing a possible evacuation for an estimated 150 Filipinos in Wuhan and another 150 in other parts of Hubei, but there are no confirmed plans.

Colombo said it is making arrangements to return 860 Sri Lankan students, of whom 32 are in Wuhan.

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's premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha said Tuesday the country was waiting for authorisation from Chinese officials before evacuating people, but that aircraft and doctors were on standby.

The State Department said a chartered flight would leave Wuhan on Wednesday with 240 American citizens on board, including consular staff.

France 's health minister Agnes Buzyn says a plane will be sent to Wuhan on Thursday, returning either Friday or Saturday.

About 500 to 1,000 French citizens are eligible for repatriation there. Another flight is planned.

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.

The European Commission said "only healthy or asymptomatic citizens will be authorised to travel" on the flights.

Berlin has not confirmed any evacuation plan but said it is considering options for roughly 90 citizens reportedly in Wuhan.

Spanish officials are working with China and the European Union to take Spanish nationals out of the area, the foreign minister said.

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.

About 100 people, mostly students in Wuhan, will be evacuated, according to local media.