China to bring home overseas citizens from virus-hit province: Foreign ministry official

A woman wearing a protective mask while walking on an empty road in Beijing, China, on Jan 29, 2020.
A woman wearing a protective mask while walking on an empty road in Beijing, China, on Jan 29, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - The Chinese government has decided to send charter planes to bring citizens from virus-hit Hubei province who are overseas back "as soon as possible", the foreign ministry said on Friday (Jan 31).

This is in view of "practical difficulties that Hubei citizens, especially those from Wuhan, have faced overseas", said ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Hua Chunying.

China's official Xinhua News Agency also confirmed the comments in a separate report.

The aviation authority dispatched two Xiamen Airlines flights to bring back Wuhan citizens to the Chinese city from Bangkok in Thailand and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, it said on its website on Friday. 

As a deadly virus spreads beyond China, governments, businesses and educational institutions are struggling to find the right response.

Though the vast majority of infections and deaths involve people from Wuhan or nearby cities, or those who have been in contact with them, people of Asian appearance around the world say they have been subjected to increased wariness since the disease began spreading. In some cases, baser emotions have come to the fore.