CORONAVIRUS/Flights arranged to bring back 460 Taiwanese from Hubei

Taipei,  A new round of flights have been arranged for the coming days to bring back 460 Taiwanese nationals and family members who have been stuck in Hubei province in China because of the new coronavirus outbreak since late January.

Taiwan’s government has contracted with state-controlled China Airlines (CAL) to bring back 230 Taiwanese each on flights scheduled for Monday and Tuesday nights, according to a statement by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the country’s top policy-making body on China.

The two flights are scheduled to depart from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport at 7:50 p.m. and arrive at Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport at 9:50 p.m. on the two nights, the statement said.

The Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), a semi-official organization that handles cross-strait affairs in the absence of formal bilateral links, is now contacting the 460 people to make sure they are ready to travel.

The foundation wants to see if they have prepared valid travel documents and if they will be able to make it to Shanghai on time to be ready to board the two flights, the statement said.

The people in Hubei are being forced to catch the flights to Taiwan from Shanghai because Taiwan and China have been unable to agree on arrangements for charters from Wuhan to Taipei.

After the CAL flights land in Taiwan, the passengers will be sent directly to designated sites to be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to return home.

The flights will be the fourth round of evacuations of Taiwanese nationals and family members who had been stuck in Hubei province and its capital city Wuhan, the Chinese epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, since they were sealed off in late January.

The first three rounds of evacuations brought back around 1,000 people from China.

The first charter flight on Feb. 3 evacuated 247 individuals, and two flights on March 10 and March 11 brought home 361 people.

On March 29 and 30, two CAL flights, called “charter-like” flights by Taiwan’s government, ferried another 367 people back to their homes in Taiwan.

The Chinese province lifted restrictions on outbound travel on March 25 after being on lockdown for several weeks, while the lockdown of Wuhan was lifted on April 8, according to Chinese authorities.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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