246 Wuhan evacuees head home after quarantine

A bus is seen leaving a quarantine site in Taipei on Feb. 18, 2020. (CNA)
A bus is seen leaving a quarantine site in Taipei on Feb. 18, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — The first batch of people evacuated from Wuhan, the virus-ridden city of China, were discharged from isolated quarantine sites early Tuesday morning.

Tuesday marked the 15th day since they landed in Taoyuan International Airport on Feb. 4 at dawn.

Of the 247 evacuees, only one was tested positive of the novel coronavirus, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) reported on the same day of their arrival. He is still under quarantine.

People are seen leaving quarantine sites in New Taipei City, Taiwan on Feb. 18, 2020. (CNA)
People are seen leaving quarantine sites in New Taipei City, Taiwan on Feb. 18, 2020. (CNA)

The remaining 246 went home via private cars or government-arranged coaches around 6 a.m. Tuesday.

CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that for the succeeding 14 days, they must only leave their homes when necessary and wear surgical masks when doing so.

They should also take their temperatures day and night, and call 1922, the epidemic response hotline when symptoms appear, Chen said.

While the first set of evacuees returned home, the question of when and how the remaining Taiwanese residents would be brought back from China is left unanswered.

A kid holds a sign that read "I want to go home" in Taipei on Feb. 14, 2020. (CNA)
A kid holds a sign that read “I want to go home” in Taipei on Feb. 14, 2020. (CNA)

Last week, approximately 30 to 40 gathered outside the cabinet, asking the government to bring home their family members who are still stranded in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus.

“We just want to go home,” they chanted repeatedly on Friday (Feb. 14).

According to the CECC, they have requested through Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會), the agency in charge of affairs with China, that Taiwan sends it own aircraft as do every other countries that have airlifted their citizens out of the city, and its own crew members with professional epidemic prevention equipment and personnel on board.

Beijing has yet agreed, Chen said.

To date, the coronavirus has infected 22 people in Taiwan, killing one. Globally, there are more than 70,000 confirmed cases, and 1,772 deaths.