The government has decided to charter four flights to evacuate its nationals from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of a coronavirus outbreak, and its surrounding areas.
When they arrive in Korea, the health authorities plan to quarantine them at a government facility and release them only after they test negative for the virus.
“After having an in-depth review at a meeting with related ministries on Tuesday, we have decided to charter four planes to support the return of our citizens, including overseas Koreans and international students,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said. “As of now, about 700 Koreans living in Wuhan and the surrounding areas have expressed their desire to return home.”
The ministry is currently in discussion with the Chinese government in dispatching the chartered plan on either Thursday or Friday, it added.
“The decision was made considering the rapid proliferation of the new coronaviruses in China, which forced the Chinese government to shut down aircraft and public transportation in and around Wuhan,” the ministry said. “Such moves have made it impossible for Koreans to return home, while they are having difficulty in receiving medical services in Wuhan.”
To contain any possible infections of the new coronavirus, the government will provide a temporary housing facility where the returnees will stay, the ministry added.
In this regard, the government is seeking ways to use state-owned education facilities as temporary residences.
“Even though the returnees have not shown symptoms of the virus, we will cooperate with related ministries in quarantining them in the temporary living facility for some time, to help prevent the spread of the virus that may be dormant,” the ministry added.
Besides, the government plans to send two million masks, 10 million protection suits and goggles, and medical supplies to China through the chartered planes.