Portuguese Government works to repatriate nationals from coronavirus-hit Wuhan
The governments of Portugal and Spain are working with China and the European Union in order to repatriate their nationals from the Wuhan area recently struck by the infamous coronavirus, the two countries’ foreign ministers said this week.
The coronavirus outbreak has so far killed 81 people in China, and infected more than 2,800 globally, most of them concentrated in Wuhan.
“We’re working with our consulate in Beijing, and officials in China and the European Union to repatriate around 20 Spaniards in Wuhan, Hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus. We will continue to update on any advances,” Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya wrote on Twitter.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told state broadcaster RTP that the ministry was exploring whether Portuguese citizens in Wuhan could return on a civilian plane with citizens from other European countries.
“Unlike other countries such as the United States or France, who have large numbers of citizens in Wuhan and carry out their own repatriation programmes, it makes more sense for a country like Portugal, which has only a few citizens there, to carry out coordinated operations, if possible,” he said.
Media reports indicated that approximately 10 and 14 Portuguese citizens are in Wuhan at this moment in time. Three hospitals in Portugal are on alert to treat potential coronavirus cases if the need arises. Fears were sparked in the past few days due to a suspected case involving a person returning from a short trip in Wuhan. However, the individual was tested and the presence of coronavirus was deemed negative on Sunday, doctors said.
The British Foreign Office said on Monday that it was also working to offer British nationals in Hubei province an option to leave, one day after France said it expected to evacuate hundreds of its 800 citizens from the area by airplane by midweek. Evacuees will have to spend 14 days in quarantine to avoid spreading the virus in France.