Evacuation of Poles from coronavirus-hit Wuhan underway
Thirty Poles evacuated from coronavirus-hit Wuhan, in the province of Hubei, central China, were scheduled to arrive in the southwestern Polish city of Wrocław late on Sunday, Poland's Foreign Ministry said earlier on Sunday.
On Saturday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on social media that due to the epidemiological situation in the Chinese province of Hubei, he had decided that Polish citizens would be evacuated from there.
"Thanks to cooperation with our European partners, Poles are currently on their way to Paris, from where they will be transported by special military aircraft of the Polish Armed Forces to Wrocław," Morawiecki wrote on Facebook.
"There are no passengers with suspected infectious diseases among the passengers, but after landing everyone will undergo detailed examinations," the entry read.
On Sunday, at a joint press conference with Minister of Health Łukasz Szumowski and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, Morawiecki said that Poles are safe in the face of the epidemic raging in mainland China.
"We want to minimize any possibility of the coronavirus appearing or spreading in Poland. Therefore, Poles who have had contact with Chinese citizens are under constant observation. There are about 500 such people," he said.
He added that therefore a decision was made to transport Polish citizens from Wuhan back to the country. "This example shows very clearly how well our diplomatic services worked," he said. The PM also said that the transport was possible thanks to the efficient operation of the Ministry of National Defence.
According to Morawiecki, the coronavirus has not reached Poland. "We have not recorded any such cases in Poland," he said.
Szumowski told the press conference that Poland's health care services, such as sanitary stations, infectious wards and hospitals, medical emergency services and sanitary services, are prepared for the possible appearance of coronavirus from Wuhan.
Błaszczak said that Poles travelling from Wuhan are under the care of military specialists - a doctor and paramedics - and that a specially adapted ward at Wroclaw's military hospital is ready to accept them.
On Friday, Szumowski said that Poles coming from Wuhan, immediately after their arrival, will be examined for the coronavirus and quarantined in one place.
Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said on Saturday that there were several Poles who had decided to remain in Wuhan, in most cases because of family ties to Chinese citizens. "And those citizens cannot leave the country, so the spouses have decided to stay. Polish consular services are at their disposal," he said.
The evacuation of Poles from China was organised by the Polish consulate in cooperation with French and Chinese authorities. Poland's foreign ministry is advising against trips not only to the Wuhan region, but also to China. LOT Polish Airlines has suspended all flights between Poland and China until February 9.
Nearly 12,000 Chinese have fallen ill and close to 260 have died due to the coronavirus, which causes pneumonia. Cases have also been discovered in over a dozen countries, including Germany, France, Finland, the US, Canada, Russia and Great Britain. A dozen or so people with suspected coronavirus have been admitted to hospital in Poland and over 500 were under observation by its health services. Apart from China, there have been no reports of deaths in other countries.