Taiwan evacuates 169 on second flight from Hubei

(CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — A charter plane carrying 169 Taiwanese nationals stranded in China’s Hubei Province touched down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 11:35 p.m. Tuesday in the second evacuation of Taiwanese from the epicenter of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The flight run by Taiwan’s China Airlines had previously been scheduled to depart from Hubei’s Wuhan City at 5 p.m. Tuesday but was delayed to 9:46 p.m.

Upon arrival at the Taoyuan airport, the passengers were to be sent to a provisional quarantine facility set up at the airport to determine if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

Those who display symptoms will be immediately sent to hospitals for full diagnosis and treatment, while those who show no symptoms will be isolated for 14 days at three undisclosed quarantine locations to prevent them from coming into contact with local residents, the CECC said.

In addition to the CAL charter flight, another one by Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines is expected to evacuate another 200-plus Taiwanese nationals back to Taiwan on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s charter was the second one to evacuate Taiwanese stranded in Hubei since a flight by China Eastern Airlines brought 247 passengers back to Taiwan Feb. 3.

Following the first charter flight, the authorities in Taiwan and China have been blaming each other for hindering efforts to evacuate the remaining Taiwanese.

Taiwan halted plans to fly back the rest of the stranded Taiwanese after one passenger who was not on the boarding manifest was diagnosed with the disease the day after his return.

Taipei blamed the Chinese authorities for not allowing those with emergency needs to board the first flight, while Beijing accused the Taiwanese authorities of not allowing the Taiwanese stranded in China to return home.

All but one of the 247 Taiwanese who returned from Wuhan were released from quarantine Feb. 18 after they were cleared of possible infection.

The evacuee who tested positive for COVID-19 was discharged from hospital Feb. 27.