January 30, 2020 13:01
Koreans in Wuhan who show symptoms of coronavirus will not be able to board charter flights the government here is sending to bring back about 700 Korean nationals from the Chinese city.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it will "transport only people without symptoms according to Chinese quarantine regulations." Chinese health officials are stopping passengers from boarding if they have a temperature of over 37.3 degrees Celsius.
Two chartered planes were scheduled to fly to Wuhan on Thursday morning to bring back Korean residents to Gimpo, but the plans changed in consultation with China, which apparently worries about giving the appearance of a mass stoking panic.
Some 300 Koreans is now expected to board on a flight on Thursday night and another flight to carry the rest will be decided later.
The government here said no Korean resident in Wuhan has tested positive for the new virus so far. A government official said, "Koreans who have to remain in Wuhan because they have a fever or respiratory problems will be protected in cooperation with our diplomatic mission there."
The government has picked Asan, South Chungcheong Province and Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province as quarantine sites for the returnees, triggering vehement protests from locals there.
Opposition lawmakers raised suspicions that the government chose the areas because they are opposition strongholds. The government initially picked Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, a ruling-party stronghold, but later changed its mind.
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