More Europeans flee China virus as plane lands in France
A second French-chartered plane carrying 300 evacuees from China flew to France on Sunday as more foreigners fled China's rapidly spreading virus. The Airbus A380 landed at the military base of Istres in the southern French region of Bouches-du-Rhone. A first French plane landed Friday.
Officials said that when this latest flight left the central Chinese city of Wuhan, none of the passengers had symptoms of coronavirus. They include French, Belgians, Dutch, Danes, Czechs, Slovaks and some citizens of African countries.
Authorities said the plane would drop off most of its passengers at Istres before leaving for Belgium with several dozen people from northern Europe. Authorities hadn't said if the travelers arriving at Istres would be quarantined, but it seemed likely.
Of the 180 French people who were flown back from Wuhan on Friday, one showed symptoms of being infected with the virus and was sent to a Marseille hospital for testing, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said. The other passengers were being quarantined for 14 days at a large, isolated Mediterranean resort not far from Marseille near Carry-le-Rouet.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that two people who were flown back to Germany on Saturday were found to be infected with the virus. That brought the total of cases in Germany to 10. Spahn said the two had been symptom-free when they left Wuhan and when they arrived in Frankfurt, and that they were “doing well at the moment” in quarantine at a Frankfurt hospital.
Europe has 25 reported cases of people who have been infected with the virus that emerged from Wuhan: Germany has 10; France has six; Russia, Italy and the U.K have two each and Finland, Sweden and Spain each have one.
Italian officials said Sunday that a KC767A air force plane had set out for Wuhan to bring home 67 Italian nationals. The plane is expected to arrive back in Italy on Monday morning at a military airport near Rome. Foreign ministry officials said the plane was also bringing medical supplies to Wuhan, at China's request.
The Italian foreign ministry also said permission had been given for cargo flights to fly between Italy and China. Separately, the special commissioner in charge of coordinating Italy's efforts during the viral outbreak said consideration was being given to letting a handful of Chinese commercial airliners fly to Italy to pick up Chinese tourists and other Chinese citizens stranded in Italy by the suspension of commercial flights.
The commissioner, Angelo Borrelli, was quoted by Italian media as saying that Italy would like those flights, if approved, not to fly to Italy empty, but instead to bring back Italians from China. There are an estimated 500 other Italians in China who apparently expressed an interest in returning home during the outbreak.
Meanwhile, an estimated 3,000 tourists and others from China are stranded in Italy and want to return to home, according to Italian media. The death toll in China climbed Sunday to 304 and the number of infections rose to 14,380. The Philippines on Sunday reported the first death from the virus outside of China — that of a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan who was hospitalized Jan. 25 with a fever, cough and sore throat. The man's female companion also got the virus and remained in isolation at a Manila hospital, according to the country's health department.
On Saturday night, a Turkish military transport plane carrying 42 people arrived in Ankara from Wutan. The 32 Turkish, six Azerbaijani, three Georgian and one Albanian nationals will remain under observation in a hospital for 14 days, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Twenty Turkish personnel who participated in the evacuation will also be kept in quarantine. The Egyptian government said 306 of its nationals would return home from Wuhan on a chartered plane later Sunday and will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. The online news outlet Masrawy reported that authorities prepared a hotel in the northwestern city of Marsa Matrouh where the returnees would be quarantined.