Coronavirus: Second plane leaves for Wuhan with aid, will return with Singaporeans

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan handing over diagnostic test kits and medical supplies to Chinese Ambassador Hong Xiaoyong yesterday.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan handing over diagnostic test kits and medical supplies to Chinese Ambassador Hong Xiaoyong yesterday.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

A second plane from Singapore to Wuhan took off from Changi Airport yesterday afternoon, carrying with it supplies for the coronavirus-stricken city, and it will be returning with Singaporeans stranded there.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and the Chinese Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Hong Xiaoyong, met at the airport where the minister handed over diagnostic test kits and medical supplies to the envoy.

Dr Balakrishnan, in a Facebook post later, noted that Scoot flight TR5120 would be "extra special" for the Singaporeans who have been stuck in Wuhan since it was put on lockdown on Jan 23.

"(The flight) is extra special because today marks 'Chap Goh Mei', a day for family reunion in Chinese tradition. This flight will bring our Singaporeans and their family members back home from Wuhan," he posted. The returning Singaporeans are expected to arrive this morning. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that appropriate quarantine arrangements have been made for all of them.

One likely evacuee is Ms H, 30, whom The Straits Times previously spoke to after she was separated from her Singaporean husband who returned home on a specially arranged flight on Jan 30. She said she could not join him at the time as Chinese nationals were not allowed to leave Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ms H and her infant son, who is only a few months old, have been staying with her parents since.

She told The Sunday Times she and the other stranded Singaporean residents in Wuhan have been waiting anxiously for the second flight to take them home.

She added that as of 2pm yesterday, none of them had received official confirmation that they would be able to return home or get a pass to go to the airport. "We are still waiting anxiously," she said.

In the meantime, she has been caring for her young son and passing the time surfing the Web or watching TV. She has been on video call with her husband every day.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 09, 2020, with the headline 'Second plane leaves for Wuhan with aid, will return with S'poreans'. Print Edition | Subscribe