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Sunday Jan 26 2020

Coronavirus outbreak: US to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan


Amid global concerns over the outbreak of a deadly virus in China, the United States has stepped up efforts to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan.

The US is arranging a flight to evacuate personnel and American citizens trapped at the epicentre, the US State Department said on Sunday.

Also read: China fortifies virus defences as deaths hit 56

The flight will leave on Tuesday from the city of Wuhan to take consular personnel to San Francisco, the department said in an email to Americans in China, warning that there would be limited space for private citizens.

"This capacity is extremely limited and if there is insufficient ability to transport everyone who expresses interest, priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus," the department said.

Citing unidentified people familiar with the effort, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the plane would seat around 230 people.

Around 1,000 American citizens are believed to be in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, the newspaper said.

Read more: What is the Coronavirus?

France plans to evacuate its citizens stuck in Hubei by bus.

The outbreak, which has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000 across China, is believed to have originated in a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan.

The city of 11 million people has been placed under effective quarantine for days, with a car traffic ban going into effect on Sunday.

Transport restrictions have been expanded across Hubei, corralling some 56 million people in total.