HONG KONG: 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 170 lives nationwide.
On Thursday, China’s National Health Commission said more than 7,000 people had been infected by the novel coronavirus. Outside China, Macau and Hong Kong there have been at least 80 confirmed cases reported.
These are the plans so far by foreign governments to evacuate their citizens from the epicentre of the outbreak:
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.
The foreign ministry said Wednesday it has now requested permission to operate two flights to remove nationals from China, and that the Indian embassy in Beijing was in talks with local authorities.
Local media earlier reported plans to take more than 250 to 300 citizens out of Wuhan, and that a Boeing 747 in Mumbai was 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.
A second plane chartered by the Japanese government left China and landed in Tokyo, bringing the total number of people repatriated to 400.
There were roughly 650 Japanese citizens in the area Wuhan area who have said they want to be evacuated, authorities said Tuesday.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday that Kuala Lumpur was keen to send a plane to Wuhan to evacuate some 78 Malaysians stranded in the city.
The foreign ministry said Wednesday it would evacuate citizens in Hubei on a chartered flight, and asked nationals in the area to contact the Shanghai consulate.
On Tuesday, officials said there were roughly 150 Filipinos in Wuhan and another 150 in other parts of Hubei.
Singapore flew home 92 of its citizens from Wuhan on Thursday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Singaporeans flew back on a flight operated by Scoot, Singapore Airline’s budget arm, and landed Thursday morning.
Colombo said Tuesday 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.
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 Wednesday China has been “arranging the slot” for the country to evacuate its citizens, and those from Wuhan city would be the first to return – though he did not provide a specific time frame.
Sixty-five Thais are in Wuhan, the premier said.
The State Department said a chartered flight had left Wuhan early 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 said Wednesday it was planning to evacuate roughly 90 citizens reportedly in Wuhan, with German newspapers reporting nationals would leave Wuhan on Saturday.
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.