Escaping the coronavirus: Evacuation of Ukrainians from China

Author : News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Airplane already departed from Boryspil to evacuate Ukrainian citizens from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak
11:20, 19 February 2020


As of the morning of February 19, 1,886 people died due to the coronavirus in the mainland China. Despite this, the citizens of Ukraine are still at the epicenter of the spread of coronavirus. Initially, it was reported that for the Ukrainians who asked for evacuation, a plane was supposed to be ready on February 11. However, then the evacuation did not take place. The Prime Minister of Ukraine noted that the delay is due to the fact that the government wants to minimize risks to zero.

Later, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health announced that the plane should fly after the Ukrainians on February 18, and then for at least two weeks they would be isolated. But first things first.

How the date of evacuation changed

For the first time on February 2 authorities started talking about the upcoming evacuation of Ukrainians. Then the Ukrainian Embassy in the PRC reported that preparatory work on the evacuation of Ukrainian citizens from the territory of Hubei Province was nearing completion.

"The embassy is completing preparatory work for the evacuation of our compatriots from the territory of Hubei province, which it is impossible to leave on their own due to quarantine restrictions. Now we have established direct contact with 74 Ukrainians in Wuhan and the province of Hubei. Prior consent has been obtained from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to evacuate our citizens from the city Wuhan by special charter flight, "the embassy said.

On February 8, the embassy reported that the formation of evacuation lists was completed. They promised to name the exact time of the evacuation later. And on February 10, it was reported that the Ukrainians who requested evacuation would be transported to Kyiv. The citizens of Ukraine were going to be taken out on February 11 by a special charter flight Kyiv - Wuhan - Kyiv. The embassy called on Ukrainian citizens who wish to fly out of Wuhan to keep their passports and documents ready. For children under 18 years of age they needed birth certificate. They also asked to be constantly in touch. It was noted that every Ukrainian should be ready for evacuation, including at night. They also needed to have the necessary supply of water, food and medicine.

However, on February 11, the evacuation did not take place. The Minister of Health of Ukraine Zoryana Skaletska reported that Ukrainians must sign a form of information consent (for evacuation), and only after that the date of their return home will be known.

“Today, there are about 80 people (Ukrainians) in this province, 50 previously expressed a desire (for evacuation). Despite the fact that our employees communicate with them, we also prepared the forms of informed consent that these persons must sign in case of if they want to go aboard and be evacuated to Ukraine. Only after signing this form we can talk about how many people will actually be evacuated. And after that we can talk about the date," Skaletska reported.

On February 12, Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk said that the delay in the evacuation of Ukrainians who are in the Chinese city of Wuhan is due to the fact that the government wants to minimize risks to zero.

The next day, Zoryana Skaletska said that the plane should take off on February 18, and on February 19 it should arrive in Ukraine.

"There is no delay. There is a systematic decision-making process to ensure that we arrive in Ukraine and allow everyone to feel safe. We agreed on the decisions with all ministries. A plane will be sent on Tuesday, and Ukrainian citizens will be in Ukraine on Wednesday," - said Skaletska.

On February 17, Deputy Minister of Health Viktor Lyashko noted that the plane for Ukrainian citizens would fly on Tuesday (February 18), and Ukraine expect its return on Thursday (February 20).

Who and how will be evacuated from Wuhan

It was reported that Ukrainians from Wuhan were evacuated by a SkyUp airline flight. It was noted that the aircraft and crew are ready for evacuation. SkyUp added that there will be one plane and it will make a stop in the city of Almaty. The exact duration of this flight cannot be reported.

According to Zoryana Skaletska, Chinese doctors will examine all the Ukrainians who are now in Wuhan, and only healthy people will be allowed on the plane.

"Then the Ukrainian team of doctors who will be on board will also check them (evacuees)," Skaletska said.

It is noted that doctors will accompany the Ukrainians during the flight and later remain in isolation with them.

On February 16, BBC News Ukraine, citing the Ministry of Health, reported that 56 people should arrive in Kyiv, among them 11 foreigners. Later it became known that the citizens of Argentina will be taken aboard the Ukrainian aircraft during the evacuation from Chinese Wuhan.

Related: Covid-2019: Airplane departs from Boryspil to evacuate Ukrainians from China

The Argentinean Foreign Ministry noted that Ukraine agreed to provide places for the evacuation of their citizens along with Ukrainians. The Argentinean Foreign Ministry thanked Kyiv for the willingness to take foreigners on board.

On February 17, Deputy Minister of Health Viktor Lyashko announced that 49 Ukrainians and 25 foreigners from five different countries should be evacuated from Wuhan.

What will happen upon arrival in Ukraine

After returning to Ukraine, at least two weeks of isolation awaits for all evacuated (including foreigners).

Initially acting Director of the Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Igor Kuzin said that Ukrainians were evacuated to one of two institutions of the sanatorium-resort type, which was converted into temporary observatories. However, the Ministry of Health did not comment on this information, only noted that several options for premises are being considered.

“For us, the main task was to find premises that are both epidemically safe and comfortable so that people stay there for at least 14 days. We have four options that we will analyze, including figuring out the payment procedure. Preparation of these premises will be carried out on time," said Minister of Health Zoryana Skaletska.

She emphasized that these people should be healthy. But if someone finds coronavirus symptoms, that person will immediately be taken to the hospital.

The same information on the air of the Ukrainian television channel was confirmed by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk.

"Now there are 3-4 facilities, each of which is preparing to receive our citizens next week. They will be supervised by professional specialists for 14 days," the prime minister said.

Everything else is not yet known. For example how much time Ukrainians will have to spend in isolation after evacuating from Wuhan.

“Why, in fact, have we been preparing for such a long period of time? Because the world now has different information on how the virus spreads, what measures should be taken. Scientific publications indicate that the incubation period does not last 14 days, but more ... And if on the tenth day, for example, one of the people has this disease, it means that quarantine starts again," said Honcharuk.

On board the cruise ship Diamond Princess, which is quarantined in the port of the Japanese city of Yokohama, the number of people infected with the coronavirus has reached 454. There are 25 Ukrainians, two of whom are infected by the new type of coronavirus. Now they are hospitalized in satisfactory condition.

As for the rest of the Ukrainians who are still on the liner, authorities do not intend to evacuate them yet. The consular section of the Ukrainian Embassy in Japan said that only a few countries (including the USA and Canada) announced the evacuation of their citizens from the liner, but in general representatives of more than 50 countries are on board.

"I have no information about intentions to evacuate the citizens of Ukraine. I think this is being discussed, but so far there is no specific information. It should also be understood that other countries evacuate their citizens who are passengers, and all Ukrainians are members of the ship’s crew," the representative of the embassy noted.

The embassy also noted that there must be important reason for the decision to evacuate. Now the situation is under control.

Related: Exchange of hostages should engage professionals: Why Zelensky fired Lutkovska?

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