231 Taiwanese return from Hubei, placed in quarantine

TAIPEI (CNA) — A total of 231 Taiwan nationals, originally stranded in China’s Hubei province due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, returned to Taiwan late Monday on a special flight and were immediately placed in quarantine.

The evacuees, 193 adults and 38 children, arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 9:20 p.m. on a government-contracted China Airlines (CAL) flight that departed Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport around 8 p.m., according to Taiwan’s Border Affairs Corps.

Upon arrival in Taiwan, the 231 received a health check at a provisional facility at the airport and were then transported directly to a designated quarantine site, where they will remain for 14 days. It was the first of two special flights contracted by the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) scheduled for this week to bring home Taiwan nationals who were in Hubei province until the lockdown was lifted at the end of March.

The second special flight is scheduled to depart Tuesday night and bring back around 230 Taiwanese.

The arrangements were made by the SEF, a semi-official intermediate organization that handles cross-strait affairs in the absence of formal bilateral links.

These Taiwan nationals had to board the flight to Taiwan from Shanghai because the Taiwanes and Chinese governments have been unable to reach agreement on arrangements for charters from the provincial capital of Wuhan.

The Chinese province lifted restrictions on outbound travel on March 25, while the lockdown in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic started, was lifted on April 8, according to Chinese authorities.

The two flights this week will be the fourth round of evacuations of Taiwan nationals who were stuck in Hubei province and its capital city when the lockdown went into force. The first three rounds of evacuations brought back around 1,000 people from China in February and March.