Coronavirus: Germany to evacuate 90 citizens from China
The German government reportedly plans to evacuate 90 citizens in Wuhan at the weekend.
Within Germany there have been four confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a novel virus which has contaminated over 7,000 people worldwide. All four Germans are currently being treated in isolation.
While there have been several more suspected cases throughout the country, no others to date have been confirmed.
“Everything is under control and we are well prepared,” said Heath Minster Jens Spahn on Thursday about the general situation.
What will Saturday's evacuation involve?
Germans as well as their spouses and children must first undergo a health check at the airport in China, reported Bild.
Only if they are declared healthy by the Chinese authorities will they be allowed to leave the country.
They would have to contribute to the cost of the flight, but only to the amount of a normal economy flight, the newspaper continues.
The plane with the Germans is expected to land in Frankfurt on Saturday evening.
A sign at Munich's airport informs travellers about the coronavirus. Photo: DPA
At that time, all passengers will first be accommodated together in isolation to break a possible chain of infection. This means that passengers will not be allowed to travel on directly to their desired destinations in Germany.
This idea was put forward by Chancellor Merkel herself to Health Minister Jens Spahn, the newspaper "Bild" reports.
Elsewhere in Europe
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.
Meanwhile officials are working with China and the European Union to take Spanish nationals out of the area, the foreign minister said.
The European Commission said "only healthy or asymptomatic citizens will be authorized to travel" on the flights.
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.
A number of international airlines have cancelled flights to and from Germany as a result. Germany's flagship carrier Lufthansa said Wednesday it was cancelling all flights to mainland China until February 9th.