The United States government is planning to evacuate diplomats and citizens from the coronavirus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan.
The US consulate is reportedly reaching out to all Americans registered as living in Wuhan – considered to be the epicenter of the deadly outbreak – to offer them a seat on a charter flight scheduled for Sunday.
A source familiar with the operation told CNN that roughly 1,000 Americans live in Wuhan, and those who choose to evacuate will be forced to pay for their spot on the plane.
News of the evacuation came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide jumped to 1,396 on Saturday morning, including 42 fatalities.
The majority of the cases – and all deaths – have occurred in China.
The outbreak is believed to have originated in late December at a Wuhan supermarket that was illegally selling wildlife before travelers carried the virus to at least 11 other countries.
Some 57 million people across 15 Chinese cities – including Wuhan – are now on lockdown as officials work to slow the virus’ rapid spread.
The US evacuation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing an official source.
The official source said that a Boeing 767 jet, which carries around 230 people, is scheduled to carry diplomats from the American consulate as well as US citizens and their families.
However, another source who spoke to CNN disputed the Wall Street Journal’s claim that any available seats may be offered to non-US citizens and diplomats from other countries, saying that non-US citizens would only be allowed onboard if they are related or married to Americans.
It is understood medical personnel will be on the flight to care for anyone who may have been infected by the virus and prevent it from spreading.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it is involved in the efforts to help Americans leave Wuhan.
‘Department of State has the lead for the safe and expedient ordered departure of all US citizens from Wuhan, China,’ CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN. ‘CDC is aware and coordinating in the planning.’
Washington was given approval for the operation from China’s Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days.
The US also plans to temporarily shut its Wuhan consulate, it said.
New Delhi: An Air Indian Boeing 747 has been kept on standby for the evacuation of Indian citizens from Wuhan city of China, the epicentre of novel coronavirus outbreak, according to the official of the national carrier.
The aircraft is waiting for the Centre’s decision regarding the evacuation.
“Air India Boeing 747 is on standby for the evacuation of Indians from Wuhan (China) due to scare of Coronavirus. Carrier is waiting for the government the decision,” an Air Indian official told ANI on Monday.
The infectious virus, due to which 80 people have died so far in China and affected over 2500 people in the country, reportedly originated from Wuhan city, a major transportation hub of China.
Following the outbreak, China has imposed a lockdown in the city. However, the virus has spread to many parts of the world including France, where three cases have been reported so far.
Many countries are screening travellers from certain parts of China for symptoms of the virus at airports.Meanwhile, the United States has organised a special flight for Tuesday from Wuhan to San Francisco to relocate citizens and personnel stationed at the consulate in Wuhan.
Japan will evacuate all its nationals from China’s quarantined city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a deadly virus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday.
“We have decided to send back all (Japanese citizens in Wuhan) to Japan if they wish so, by every means including a chartered flight,” Abe told reporters.
“We are coordinating with the Chinese government at various levels, and we will accelerate the process to realise a swift implementation” of the evacuation from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, Abe said.
Earlier, a Foreign Ministry official said that 430 Japanese were in Hubei province.
The move comes as several other countries are arranging plans to evacuate their personnel and citizens.
China is one of Tokyo’s biggest trading partners and around 160 Japan-linked companies have offices in the region’s central city of Wuhan.
Japan’s health authorities confirmed the country’s third case on Saturday — all in patients that had visited Wuhan recently.