TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — A Taiwanese kid with hemophilia, a rare blood disorder, is set to arrive home on Monday night, after making headlines for weeks as the symbol of at-risk nationals stranded in the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) told a press conference on Monday that the child and his mother will fly back on a commercial flight, departing from Chengdu, a city west to Wuhan, in Sichuan Province.
The pair will wear isolation gowns, face masks and other protective gear, and will only be allowed on the flight if they don’t have a fever, CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.
They will also be first to board and the last to get off the aircraft, Chen said, and be seated in the final row and at least two rows apart from other passengers.
Upon landing, the two will undergo the same epidemic prevention procedures as repatriates from Diamond Princess cruise ship, Chen added, which is to be sent directly to a hospital to test for the virus and move to isolated quarantine sites for 14 days should the results come back negative.
At least 900 Taiwanese residents, including children, are still stranded in Hubei province because Taiwan and China cannot reach a consensus on details of the evacuation.
Earlier this month, a flight operated by China Eastern Airline (東方航空) brought back 247 people from Wuhan.
However, many of those evacuated were not people with urgent needs. Some were Chinese spouses of Taiwanese nationals.
One of those was later found to have contracted the virus.
This incited debate and anger in the society, with many concerned that repatriating people indiscriminately would overload Taiwan’s medical capacity, while some, especially those with families and friends still in China, argued that nobody should be left behind in the virus-ridden land.
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) had blamed its Chinese counterpart, the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO, 國台辦) for the holdup, condemning the latter for failing to keep its promise to prioritize at-risk groups and execute thoroughly epidemic prevention practices.
TAO accused Taiwan of “obstructing” the evacuation, saying that homebound flights were delayed because Taiwan said it has “limited capacity.”