CORONAVIRUS/Over 400 Taiwanese in Hubei set to return home Tuesday, Wednesday

03/10/2020 11:33 AM
The first group of evacuated Taiwanese nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan arrive at Taoyuan International Airport on Feb. 3.
The first group of evacuated Taiwanese nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan arrive at Taoyuan International Airport on Feb. 3.

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Two charter flights on Tuesday are scheduled to bring home more than 400 Taiwan nationals stranded in China's Hubei Province due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Chinese city of Wuhan, according to sources.

Sources close to the matter said Monday night that China Airlines (CAL), a leading carrier in Taiwan, and Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines would each send a charter flight to transport the Taiwanese nationals back to Taiwan.

One of the two charter flights is scheduled to arrive in Taoyuan International Airport at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and the other to touch down at the airport at 0:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the sources.

This is the second round of charter flights across the Taiwan Strait to evacuate Taiwanese stranded in Hubei since a flight by China Eastern Airlines carried 247 passengers back to Taiwan on the night of Feb. 3.

Sources told CNA that the two carter flights have been planned after several rounds of negotiations between Taiwan and China.

Following the first charter flight on Feb. 3, authorities in Taiwan and China blamed each other for hindering efforts to evacuate the remaining Taiwanese.

However, many Taiwanese in Hubei publicly blamed the Taiwanese government for indifference to their plight and abandoning them in China.

Local media said the first flight by CAL will bring 235 Taiwanese home from Wuhan Tienhe International Airport, while the second flight by China Eastern Airlines will carry another 235 passengers.

Reports indicate that the 470 Taiwanese were instructed on Sunday by Chinese authorities in charge of cross- strait affairs to go to Wuhan in preparation for the charter flights.

After the flights arrive at Taoyuan Airport, the passengers will be sent to a provisional quarantine facility set up at the airport to determine if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, the sources said.

Following the preliminary check-up, they will then be escorted to undisclosed quarantine venues, where they will stay for 14 days, according to the sources.

CAL has flown quarantine personnel from Taiwan to Wuhan to carry out examinations before the charter flights leave the Chinese city, the sources said.

However, agencies involved in the evacuation declined to disclose further details.

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said it has scheduled a news conference for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to provide an update on the evacuation, adding that negotiations with Chinese authorities remain ongoing.

After the first evacuation on Feb. 3, all but one of the 247 Taiwanese who returned from Wuhan were released from quarantine on Feb. 18 after they were cleared of possible infection.

The evacuee who tested positive for COVID-19 was discharged from hospital on Feb. 27 after being diagnosed with the disease the day after returning to Taiwan.

(By Bien Ching-feng, Chen Wei-ting and Frances Huang)

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