Poland Begins Evacuating EU Citizens From China

Channels Television  
Updated January 31, 2020
British nationals evacuated from Wuhan in China amid the novel coronavirus outbreak are helped by personnel (high visibility jackets) as they disembark a chartered passenger jet at the Royal Air Force station RAF Brize Norton in Carterton, west of London, on January 31, 2020. PHOTO: AFP


Poland’s flagship LOT airline said Friday it was sending a passenger plane to Beijing to evacuate Polish and other EU nationals at risk from the deadly novel coronavirus. 

“The plane will fly from Warsaw to Beijing on Friday and will bring LOT crew members remaining in China and other Polish and EU passengers who decide to return,” LOT said in a press release.

The airline announced earlier it was suspending all flights to China until at least February 9, but would accommodate Polish government requests to evacuate more citizens as needed.

Poland’s deputy health minister Waldemar Kraska said separately on Friday that the government was making arrangements to evacuate 31 Poles from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Numerous countries, including France, Britain, Japan, and South Korea, have already begun airlifting their citizens out of Wuhan.

“We’re in the process of implementing a plan to transport Poles from Wuhan — currently 31 people have declared they want to return,” he told reporters in Warsaw.

The flight, expected in the coming days, “will be destined for France, and then directly to Poland,” Kraska added.

The Wuhan metropolis is at the heart of the SARS-like virus epidemic that has so far killed 213 people and led the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday to declare it an international public health emergency.

The city of 11 million has been subject to an unprecedented lockdown, preventing residents from leaving in a bid to stop the deadly virus from spreading further.

A “dozen or so people” were in under observation in Polish hospitals for the presence of the virus, while “more than 500 people are being monitored by sanitation services,” Kraska said on Friday.