TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwanese nationals stranded in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic, will soon be able to return to Taiwan on a charter flight, a Taiwanese business association in the city said Sunday.
Wuhan’s Taiwan Affairs Office said it has decided to help Taiwanese stuck in the city return home via a nonstop charter flight and has asked the association to count the number of Taiwanese still there, according to association chairman Hsiao Yung-jui (蕭永瑞).
Hsiao said it would take two days to complete the count and other procedures to arrange the flight.
According to Hsu Cheng-wen (徐正文), who heads the Parents Association in Taipei, 501 Taiwanese are stranded in Hubei and he said applications to leave the city were being distributed Sunday morning.
One of two Taiwanese nationals in China infected with the coronavirus — a businessperson surnamed Chin (金) — will not be on the charter flight, as he has been admitted into a hospital in Wuhan and most of his family members are in the city, Hsu said.
The other patient worked in Wuhan before flying to Shenzhen in mid-January, according to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council.
Wuhan and several other cities in Hubei province have been sealed off since Jan. 23 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has taken the lives of at least 304 people in China to date.
Several foreign governments have arranged for charters to take their nationals stuck in Hubei province back home, but China’s central government has not responded to requests from Taiwan to do the same.
The issue now appears to be in the process of being settled at the local level.
China Airlines (CAL), one of Taiwan’s largest carriers, is ready to operate the charter flight to either Wuhan or Changsha in neighboring Hunan province, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), deputy director-general of Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said that after the Taiwanese nationals return home, they will be quarantined for 14 days.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is expected to pick three or four sites around Taiwan where the returning Taiwanese can stay, Chuang said, and arrangements will be made to have people on duty to provide food and monitor their health.