China has jetted off two planeloads of its citizens back to Hubei, the quarantined province at the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak where they were welcomed by authorities in full-body protective suits. A Xiamen Airlines charter flight took off from Bangkok landed late on January 31 in the provincial capital Wuhan, which is believed to be the main epicenter of the infection.
The health authorities covered themselves with white, full-body protective gear stood by the cabin door as the 73 passengers deboarded the aircraft, smiling through the face masks and waving to the photographers.
A second flight landed soon afterwards carrying Hubei residents from Kota Kinabalu, a famous coastal tourist destination in Malaysia. The Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the country is trying to bring back Wuhan residents back from overseas as soon as possible. The move was taken after more than 30 airlines worldwide announced that they are reducing or halting flights to China as the country struggles to contain the spread of the epidemic. The death toll for the Wuhan 2019-nCoV has spiked to more than 250 and infection cases surged nearly 12,000 by Saturday, February 1, confirmed China’s National Health Commission as per reports.
The Communist Party officials in Wuhan, the epicenter in Hubei province where the virus emerged, reportedly expressed remorse over the local authorities’ lethargy in taking adequate containment measures to have prevented the epidemic in time.
According to reports, only last week, China’s central government took a dramatic step as it issued restraint orders, imposing mass coronavirus quarantine that now encompasses 12 cities with approximately 1.4 billion citizens on lockdown. Several countries across the world, including the US, have suspended major airline services and immigration facilities placing travel restrictions on Chinese nationals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), majority infection cases outside of mainland China are associated with global contagion outbreak that involved ‘travel’.