Coronavirus: Foreigners Fleeing China Arrive Germany

German Air Force Airbus A310 "Kurt Schumacher" lands at Frankfurt am Main's airport, western Germany, with on board German citizens who have been evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak on February 1, 2020. Thomas Lohnes / AFP
German Air Force Airbus A310 “Kurt Schumacher” lands at Frankfurt am Main’s airport, western Germany, with on board German citizens who have been evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak on February 1, 2020. Thomas Lohnes / AFP

A plane carrying German and foreign nationals evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, landed in Germany on Saturday, an AFP reporter said.

The plane carrying 102 German citizens and 26 foreign nationals landed at Frankfurt Airport around 1540 GMT after being delayed when Russia refused to let it land and refuel.

The Moscow airport claimed it had a “lack of capacity” and the Airbus A310 jet was forced to stop in Helsinki instead.

The passengers will be examined for symptoms of the virus, which has killed 259 people in China so far, at a specially equipped facility at the airport in Frankfurt.

Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said on Saturday that none of the passengers had shown any such symptoms.

Those who are cleared will then be quarantined for two weeks at a military base in Germersheim, near Stuttgart.

Germany now has seven confirmed cases of the virus, including the first of human-to-human transmission on European soil.

The patients are all in the southern Bavaria region and comprise of six employees of car parts supplier Webasto and a daughter of one of the workers.

All are in “a very good state of health”, Spahn said.

“What worries me are conspiracy theories that spread uncertainty,” he added, saying that there were reports that the children of Webasto employees were being turned away from daycare in Germany.

The Wuhan metropolis is at the heart of the SARS-like virus epidemic that has led the World Health Organization 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 virus from spreading further.

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

In Germany’s Palatinate region where the evacuees will be quarantined some locals had managed to maintain a sense of humour about the affair.

“We have survived the French, we have survived the hippies (a reference to a famous 1972 rock festival) — a virus from China is not going to immediately kill us,” said a 72-year-old local, quoted by the DPA news agency.

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