Spain preparing to repatriate nationals from epicenter of coronavirus outbreak

Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya announced on Twitter today that the government is working with the Chinese authorities to bring 20 or so people home from Wuhan

Passengers arrive in France from Beijing.
Passengers arrive in France from Beijing.Kamil Zihnioglu (AP)

The Spanish government is preparing to repatriate the 20 or so Spaniards who are currently trapped in the city of Wuhan, China due to the quarantine imposed there by the Chinese government in a bid to halt the spread of a new strain of coronavirus.

No cases of the virus have so far been identified in Spain

Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya announced today via Twitter that her department is working with the Health Ministry, the Spanish consulate in Beijing and the Chinese and European authorities in an effort to bring back the country’s nationals who are still in the area in Hubei province, which is the epicenter of the outbreak.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said today during a radio interview with the Cadena SER network that his department is studying the protocols that will have to be followed when the Spanish nationals in question arrive in their home country, so that they receive “the medical treatment that they require.”

Asked whether they would have to be placed in quarantine, Illa replied that measures will be taken to confirm whether are not they are infected with the virus. The minister pointed out that no cases have so far been identified in Spain, with four possible infections already ruled out. He added that the Spanish health system is “perfectly capable” of dealing with the situation.

The minister explained that a protocol has been agreed with Spain’s regional governments, who are in charge of their own health systems. Salvador stated that he is in ongoing contact with the regions, as well as with the World Health Organization (WHO), and explained that daily meetings are being held in the ministry in order to keep on top of the latest information.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said Spain is “perfectly capable” of dealing with the situation

“I want to convey a message of calm,” Illa said.

Several countries are preparing to repatriate their nationals from the affected area in China. So far, France, Germany, United States and Japan have announced that they will do so soon, although for now none of these operations have taken place.

According to news agency Reuters, the current coronavirus outbreak has killed 81 people in China so far and infected more than 2,750 globally.

English version by Simon Hunter.


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