C130 aircraft on standby for Wuhan evacuation

C130 aircraft on standby for Wuhan evacuation

A man wearing a protective facemask rides a motorcycle on a street in Wuhan on Sunday. (AFP photo)
A man wearing a protective facemask rides a motorcycle on a street in Wuhan on Sunday. (AFP photo)

Up to four C130 planes with medic teams have been put on standby in case Thailand decides to airlift its citizens from Wuhan as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in China.

Air force chief Maanat Wongwat said on Sunday the transport aircraft and medic teams were ready to take off to the Chinese city as soon as the government gives the green light to the evacuation plan.

"The air force is ready," ACM Maanat said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Sunday the government was considering a plan to help Thai citizens in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

A total of 64 Thais — 54 students and 10 masseuses — are in the capital of Hubei province, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The evacuation was floated after some countries, including the United States, France and Japan, are arranging flights to move their citizens from Wuhan, the first city on lockdown as Chinese authorities tried to contain the outbreak.

Thailand's evacuation plan will be clearer when the Rapid Response Centre comprising officials from several agencies holds talks on Monday at the Foreign Ministry.

The setup of the centre reflects a growing concern after more people in Thailand were suspected of having been infected.

At eight, Thailand has the highest number of infected people after China.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks on Sunday made clear that the evacuation plan had not been finalised. All measures to help the Thais in Wuhan will be tabled  in the meeting of the centre on Monday, she added.

The death toll of the virus has climbed to 56 and more than 2,000 people have been infected so far.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai has ordered Thai diplomats based in China to closely monitor the situation, she added.


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