China has flown two planeloads of its citizens back home to Hubei, the locked-down province at the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak where they were greeted by authorities in full-body protective suits.
A Xiamen Airlines charter flight from Bangkok touched down late Friday within the capital Wuhan, where the infection is believed to possess originated during a market that sold wild animals.
Health authorities in white, full-body protective gear stood by the cabin door because the plane’s 73 passengers disembarked, smiling through face masks and waving to news photographers.
A second Xiamen flight landed soon afterwards carrying Hubei residents from Kota Kinabalu, a well-liked coastal tourist destination in Malaysia.
US airlines suspend China flights over virus fear
The U.S. advised against all visit China because the number of cases of a worrying new virus spiked quite tenfold during a week. All three major U.S. airlines are getting to cancel flights to China until a minimum of March.
China’s foreign ministry said earlier on Friday that the country would bring Wuhan residents back from overseas “as soon as possible” thanks to “the practical difficulties that Chinese citizens from Hubei, especially Wuhan, have faced overseas”.
The move came after a quite 30 airlines worldwide announced they were halting or reducing flights to China because the country struggles to contain the spread of the epidemic.
China’s aviation agency had said there have been 117 nationals from Hubei province in Bangkok and 100 in Kota Kinabalu who are “willing to require the chartered flights back to Wuhan as soon as possible”.
This was despite the very fact that Wuhan and surrounding cities are locked down by authorities for quite every week , effectively trapping quite 50 million people in their homes after a near-blanket transport ban.
Nearly all of the 259 people killed within the outbreak thus far were in Hubei.
Hospitals are overwhelmed in Wuhan. AFP reporters saw long queues, with some patients saying they lined up for 2 days to ascertain a doctor.
The charter flights prompted a flurry of dialogue on Chinese social media.
“These people probably don’t need to travel back,” said one, while another questioned if residents should be returned to Hubei if they weren’t infected.
China has advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled overseas group tours.
Several countries including the us , Germany, Britain and Japan have urged their citizens to avoid travel there.
The US has also declared a national emergency, temporarily barring entry to foreigners who had been in China within the past fortnight .
Neighbouring Myanmar turned a plane back to China on Friday with most passengers still on board — including French and americans — after one man suspected of contracting the coronavirus was taken to hospital.