US to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan, China

BENGALURU: The United States is arranging a charter flight on Sunday to bring its citizens and diplomats back from the Chinese city of Wuhan, epicentre of the outbreak of a new coronavirus, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

The plane, with around 230 people, will carry diplomats from the US consulate as well as US citizens and their families, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the operation.

Washington was given approval for the operation from China’s Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days, the newspaper said.

A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Beijing said that on Thursday, the State Department had ordered the departure of family members and all US government employees at its Wuhan consulate, but declined to comment on the report that other US citizens would be evacuated from the city.

The decision to move US consulate staff and families was due to the outbreak of the coronavirus “and logistical disruptions stemming from restricted transportation and overwhelmed hospitals in the city of Wuhan,” the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Reuters.