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Emergency Evacuation Of Americans Begins From Epidemic-Stricken Chinese City

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Via Zerohedge

Update (Jan. 27):  The Wall Street Journal has provided an update on the emergency charter flight to evacuate Americans from the epidemic-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan.

The Boeing 767, with about 230 seats, is preparing to depart from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport on Tuesday for California, amid new fears that coronavirus has uncontrollably spread across the country. 

The U.S. State Department’s rapid response operation to evacuate Americans from the region is due to the expected increase in the number of cases in the days ahead. 

There are at least 1,000 Americans in Wuhan, and only 230 will get seats on the chartered flight. 

We noted on Sunday that U.S. diplomats and their families were likely first on the list to receive seats.

People with tickets told the Journal that the chartered flight is expected to land in Ontario, California.

Vermont native Priscilla Dickie, 35, told the Journal that she and her daughter, 8, have seats on the plane but might not be able to get to the airport since transportation has come to a standstill. She said she’s 20 miles from the airport without a means of transportation.

Benjamin Wilson told the Journal he’s preparing for the worse and hunkering down with his Wuhan native wife and 7-year-old daughter.

“I would consider sending my daughter, if that were an option,” Wilson said.

But I wouldn’t leave my wife. But if my wife and daughter could travel together, then absolutely yes.”

A U.S. official told the Journal over the weekend that additional emergency evacuation operations would be conducted this week, which would include the bussing of Americans from the outbreak zone to other cities for outbound flights to the U.S.

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Besides the U.S., Reuters reports the following countries have already announced evacuation plans for their citizens trapped in Wuhan:

  • France expects to repatriate up to a few hundred of its 800 citizens living in the Wuhan area. Evacuees will have to spend 14 days in quarantine to avoid spreading the virus in France.

  • The German air force repatriating 90 Germans living in the area, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday.

  • Japan is expected to arrange charter flights as early as Tuesday for any of its citizens who wish to return from Wuhan, two sources familiar with the matter said. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said about 430 Japanese nationals have been confirmed to be in Hubei province.

  • Spain’s government is working with China and the European Union to repatriate Spanish nationals from the Wuhan area, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said.

  • Britain is talking to international partners to find solutions to help British and other foreign nationals leave Wuhan, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

  • Canada has about 167 nationals in the Wuhan area, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Monday, and eight people have sought consular assistance, which is being provided. While the minister did not rule out possible evacuations, he did not indicate there were any planned at the moment, adding that each consular request would be evaluated on a “case by case basis”.

  • Russia has been in talks with China about evacuating its nationals from Wuhan and Hubei province, Russia’s embassy in China said.

  • The Dutch government is assessing ways to evacuate 20 Dutch citizens from Wuhan, press agency ANP reported.

  • Authorities in Myanmar said they had canceled a planned evacuation of 60 students from Mandalay who were studying in Wuhan. Kyaw Yin Myint, a spokesman for the Mandalay municipal government, told Reuters that a “final decision” had been made to send them back after 14 days, once the virus’ incubation period had passed.

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The total number of confirmed cases has climbed to 2882, though the actual number of cases out there is likely much higher, as experts have warned.

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Update (1154ET): Yesterday it was the U.S. and Russia arranging charter flights to evacuate their citizens from the epidemic-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan. 

Now Thailand has four Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport planes on standby to airlift its citizens from the city as the coronavirus outbreak spreads uncontrollably, reported the Bangkok Post.  

Royal Thai Air Force Chief Maanat Wongwat told the Post that four C-130s, carrying medical teams, students, and medical professionals, are ready to take off from the Chinese city. 

“The air force is ready” to evacuate its citizens, Wongwat said. 

Evacuations from the city are already underway for the U.S., France, and Japan, as confirmed cases in China could exceed over 3,000 by the end of the weekend

Thailand’s evacuation plan also comes as a quarter-million people across China could be infected with the deadly disease in the next several weeks. 

At the moment, four countries have initiated evacuation plans for their citizens trapped in Wuhan. 

* * * 

A new report from The Wall Street Journal indicates the U.S. government is preparing an emergency charter flight to evacuate Americans from the epidemic-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan. 

The operation comes after the death toll jumped 60% on Friday night to 41, with more than 1,400 confirmed infections. 

China has restricted travel for 46 million people across 16 cities as the death toll surges, and the spread becomes uncontrollable. 

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New cases were also reported in Europe and Australia on Friday night. 

In the U.S., there are 63 suspected cases, with at least three confirmed, with two reported so far in Illinois and California, and two suspected in Minnesota.

The Journal said about 1,000 Americans reside in Wuhan, but the official number has yet to be confirmed. 

U.S. officials have contacted known Americans in the region with an offer for a seat on a Boeing 767 jet that holds approximately 230 people. 

Confirmed passengers already include diplomats from the U.S. Consulate Wuhan as well as their families. 

The Journal noted that medical personnel would be on the plane to examine passengers for potential cases of the deadly virus. 

The emergency evacuation is planned for Sunday, but limited details were given on where the plane would land in the U.S. 

A U.S. official told The Journal that additional emergency evacuation operations would be conducted in the coming days, which would include the bussing of Americans from the outbreak zone to other cities for outbound flights to the U.S. 

Russia is also planning emergency evacuations of its citizens from Wuhan and Hubei province, reported RIA news agency on Saturday. 

Emergency evacuations are coming at a time when upwards of 250,000 Chinese could contract the deadly virus in the next ten days, said Jonathan Read, a U.K. expert on the transmission and evolutionary dynamics of infectious diseases. 

Evacuations by the U.S. are likely in response to Read’s warning that suggests the outbreak could exponentially increase in the next several weeks. 

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