Plane leaves Wuhan with 83 Britons, 27 other foreigners

Plane leaves Wuhan with 83 Britons, 27 other foreigners

A chartered Boeing 747-400 plane carrying evacuated South Koreans from Wuhan arrives at Gimpo International Airport in Gimpo, South Korea, on Friday. (Reuters photo)
A chartered Boeing 747-400 plane carrying evacuated South Koreans from Wuhan arrives at Gimpo International Airport in Gimpo, South Korea, on Friday. (Reuters photo)

BEIJING: A plane carrying 83 British and 27 other foreign nationals flew out on Friday from China's central city of Wuhan, the centre of a virus epidemic that has killed more than 200 and infected more than 9,000, the British government said.

The civilian aircraft chartered by the Foreign Office left Wuhan at 9.45am, the government said in a notice on its website.

It is due to arrive at 1pm in Britain later on Friday, before continuing on to Spain, where the home countries of European Union citizens will take responsibility for the remaining passengers.

"We know how distressing the situation has been for those waiting to leave," Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, according to the notice. "We have been working round the clock to clear the way for a safe departure."

Earlier on Friday, a chartered plane carrying 368 South Koreans arrived in South Korea from Wuhan, with 18 of them running fevers, the South Korean Health and Welfare Ministry said.

They were the first batch of South Koreans evacuated from the city. Other foreign governments have already evacuated or plan to evacuate their citizens stranded in the capital city of Hubei Province, which has been in virtual lockdown since last week.

Those who showed no symptoms will be quarantined at facilities more than 50km south of Seoul for 14 days, a senior ministry official said in a press briefing.

"The government is having close discussions with Chinese authorities to send one more chartered plane for South Koreans living in Wuhan that couldn't be transferred today," the official added.

South Korea reported its seventh case of coronavirus infection on Friday.

On Thursday, Portugal sent an A380 jet to repatriate more than 300 EU citizens from Wuhan

Lisbon's foreign ministry said the plane, operated by Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly, was bound for China in a discreet operation to bring out Europeans based in the city with Beijing's cooperation.

"We estimate around 350 passengers to come back. They are all European and many nationalities, including Portuguese," the flight's Greek captain Antonios Efthymiou told Sic Noticias before the flight left Beja airport some 170km south of Lisbon.

Portuguese daily Publico reported the French government had chartered the aircraft, adding it would make a stopover in Paris to receive medical personnel and then head first to Hanoi, Vietnam, before going on to China on Friday.

"We have begun the repatriation operation, an operation coordinated at European level and with Chinese authorities," Augusto Santos Silva, Portugal's minister for foreign affairs, told broadcaster Antena 1.

"All Portuguese who have requested repatriation will be a part of this operation," said Mr Silva. He explained there were some details he was not at liberty to divulge "in order to guarantee the efficacy of this operation [which] must be carried out with the necessary discretion to succeed. We must be prudent."

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