Coronavirus: Germany planning evacuation of its citizens in China | News | DW | 27.01.2020
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Coronavirus: Germany planning evacuation of its citizens in China

Germany may evacuate its citizens from China because of the spreading coronavirus, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said. He also urged Germans not to make any "unnecessary trips" to China.

Germany is planning to join other western countries in evacuating people from China as the deadly coronavirus claims more victims.

"We are checking and preparing for all options; that means we are also considering a possible evacuation of all those willing to leave," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at a press conference with EU High Representative Josep Borrell in Berlin.

A ministry spokeswoman told the DPA news agency that there were around 90 Germans living in Wuhan. 

These included "citizens who live, work, study, or are married," she said. "We have no indication at the moment that any Germans are affected by the illness."

"All citizens should keep up with the Foreign Ministry travel advice, which is being updated daily," Maas said. "Travelers should consider delaying or canceling non-essential journeys to China."

A consular team is being sent from Beijing to Wuhan, where the virus broke out, this evening to get an idea of the situation on the ground.

Maas also said that a government crisis management team was meeting in his ministry to discuss further steps, with experts from the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's leading public health body, being consulted. 

Earlier on Monday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn told the DPA news agency that Germany had pandemic plans in place should the virus break out. "We are fundamentally very vigilant, we take things very seriously, but we are well-prepared," he said.

Read more: Coronavirus: What you need to know

First cases in Europe

Borrell added that the EU Commission was coordinating with member states over its response to the outbreak, with a health ministers' summit being organized to establish how suspected cases would be dealt with and reported. He said the EU was also in contact with the World Health Organization (WHO).

France has confirmed three cases of the virus, which has killed over 80 people in China and infected at least 2,800 people. Both France and the US, which has also had a handful of confirmed cases, are also organizing evacuations.

A few cases have also been confirmed in several Asian countries, as well as Australia and Canada.

Global reactions

The United States on Monday warned nationals to reconsider plans to travel to China due to the virus outbreak while France, Morocco and Japan made moves to evacuate citizens out of Wuhan, the sprawling city at the center of the epidemic.

Meanwhile, Spain is currently in negotiations with EU officials to move Spaniards out of the affected area in eastern China and other European nations, such as the Netherlands and Great Britain, are seeking ways to evacuate their own citizens.

France expects to repatriate a few hundred nationals in the coming days, Morocco will evacuate 100 of its citizens and Japan is arranging charter flights as early as Tuesday for any Japanese people who wish to return from Wuhan. Indeed, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said about 430 Japanese nationals have been confirmed to be in Hubei, the province that encapsulates Wuhan.

Canada issued a travel warning as the coronavirus continued to spread. The country has two confirmed cases of the virus so far and is investigating another 19 suspected instances, while warning its citizens to avoid travel to China's Hubei province.

Watch video 01:41

Wuhan - a city in the grip of coronavirus

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