The first evacuations of foreign nationals from China took place Wednesday as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak soared to 132 people.
A chartered jet flew 206 Japanese nationals from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, to Tokyo’s Haneda airport Wednesday. Four passengers were taken to a hospital after complaining of feeling ill. Medical personnel were on board the flight to screen the passengers before take-off and again when the plane landed.
The Associated Press says a chartered jet evacuated an unknown number of Americans out of Wuhan on a flight to Anchorage, Alaska, where they will be re-screened for the virus.
Australia, New Zealand, France, Russia and other nations also have announced plans to evacuate their citizens out of Wuhan this week.
In addition to the increased death toll, Chinese health authorities say the total number of confirmed cases has soared above 5,900, far exceeding the number of people infected during the outbreak of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus that killed 800 people worldwide between 2002-2003.
Authorities have imposed a virtual quarantine on Wuhan, banning people from traveling in and out of the city. Several other cities in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, are facing heavy restrictions on movement. Wuhan is racing to complete two new field hospitals to treat the growing number of patients. The virus is believed to have emerged late last year at a Wuhan seafood market illegally selling wildlife.
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