Ukraine Sending Plane To Evacuate Citizens From China As Virus Deaths Exceed 1,800
By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service February 18, 2020
After a week of delay, Ukraine on February 18 plans to send a plane to China and evacuate 49 citizens and 25 foreign nationals, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko announced the previous day.
The passengers will be airlifted from Wuhan city in Hubei province, the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak where the pathogen is believed to have originated in December.
Only people without symptoms of the COVID-2019 virus will be allowed to board, Lyashko said, adding that upon their arrival in Kyiv on February 19, they will be quarantined in isolation for 14 days.
"There's no need to panic, we'll bring only healthy people to Ukraine," the health minister said.
Ukraine's embassy in China first announced an evacuation would take place on February 11 and it was postponed a second time over the past seven days.
No plans are in place to evacuate the 25 Ukrainian passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is quarantined at a Japanese port, Lyashko said.
"Right now, we're focused on issues of evacuating citizens in the quarantined zone [in China]. This is a top priority. Further on we will revisit the question of possibly evacuating and those citizens [aboard the cruise ship]," he said.
A 25-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman, who worked in the kitchen of the cruise ship, have tested positive for the infection aboard the ship along with 452 others passengers.
A total of 72,436 infection cases have been reported in mainland China as of February 17, the National Health Commission said in its daily update the following day. There is a total of 1,868 fatalities in the country.
Chinese officials on February 17 published the first details on nearly 45,000 infection cases of the coronavirus, saying more than 80 percent have been mild.
The virus caused severe symptoms such as, pneumonia in 14 percent of them and critical illness in 5 percent. The mortality rate for these confirmed cases is 2.3 percent.
Outside of China, there have been about 900 infections reported and four deaths in nearly 30 locations.
With reporting by Deutsche Welle, AP, and Hromadske
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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