Coronavirus: Americans in Wuhan have to pay for a seat on plane with diplomats as govt prepares to evacuate
Amid the rapidly rising cases of coronavirus, the United States government is planning to evacuate American diplomats and citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan, considered to be the epicenter of the deadly outbreak.
The news of the evacuation comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world increased to 1,396 on Saturday, January 25, morning, including 42 fatalities, with a majority of the cases and all deaths occurring in China.
The US consulate is reaching out to all Americans registered as living in Wuhan offering a charter flight scheduled for Sunday, January 26. Reports say there are roughly 1,000 Americans living in Wuhan and those who choose to evacuate with the diplomats will have to pay for their spot on the plane.
While details of the flight are still being finalized, a source informs that "a lot depends on what the Chinese authorities will allow us to do," adding that Beijing has been "very cooperative".
It is believed that the coronavirus broke out in December at a Wuhan supermarket that was illegally selling wildlife before travelers carried the deadly virus to at least 11 countries. A total of 57 million people across 15 Chinese cities have been put under lockdown as healthcare officials struggle to keep the virus contained.
The evacuation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Medical personnel will also be present on the flight to care for anyone who may be infected by the virus and to keep it from spreading.
The US Centres of Disease Control and Prevention has said that it is involved in helping Americans leave Wuhan.
"Department of State has the lead for the safe and expedient ordered departure of all US citizens from Wuhan, China," CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN. "CDC is aware and coordinating in the planning."
Washington was given approval for the operation from China's Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days. At the same time, the US plans to temporarily shut its Wuhan Consulate.