The Macau government said on Saturday it will airlift “50 to 60” local residents stranded in Hubei province in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Health Bureau (SSM) Director Lei Chin Ion announced the airlift at the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre’s daily press conference.
Lei said that a plane chartered by the local government is slated to fly to the provincial capital Wuhan next Friday or Saturday.
A total of 29 Macau residents are in Wuhan, according to the press conference.
Most of the 163 Macau residents stranded in Hubei are understood to have asked the local government to help them return home. Hubei is double the size of Portugal and has a population of around 60 million, about the same as Italy.
Lei said that next week’s airlift would focus on Macau residents in or near Wuhan. A number of Macau residents are reportedly in remote areas of the province nearly 1,000 kilometres north of Macau.
Lei said that the passengers would undergo a medical examination before being allowed to board the charter plane. He said that only those without COVID-19 symptoms would be allowed to take part in the airlift. Lei warned that the airlift could be a COVID-19 infection risk, pointing out that statistically 10 percent of the evacuees might be infected with the novel coronavirus.
Medical personnel and police officers from Macau and Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) officials will be on the flight. All on board will wear full-body protective clothing, according to Lei.
Lei also said that upon arrival in Macau the evacuees will immediately be taken to a quarantine facility in Coloane for 14 days of medical surveillance.
The airlift will be arranged for Macau ID cardholders only, officials noted during the press conference. This means that family members who do not hold Macau ID cards won’t be able to join the airlift.