Coronavirus: A Fourth Plane Sent to China to Repatriate French People

General News
A passenger disembarks from the cruise ship Diamond Princess in quarantine in the port of Yokohama in Japan, on February 19, 2020.

The director-general of health said Wednesday (February 19th) that dozens of French people will be repatriated from China and confined to a holiday village.

A fourth plane will fly to China in view of the French repatriation from Wuhan, announced Professor Jérôme Salomon, director-general of health, in an update on the coronavirus epidemic, Wednesday 19th February 2020.

“A fourth flight is being finalized. A few dozen people of French nationality are expected to arrive on Friday. Their accommodation in a holiday village is being organized.”

If returnees have no symptoms, they will still be tested twice at their place of containment , not yet disclosed. They will stay there for 14 days.

In France, “we are doing everything to curb the introduction of the virus and prevent its spread” recalled Jérôme Salomon, adding that there were no new proven cases in France. The latest assessment remains established in France with 12 confirmed cases . Four people remain hospitalized but show no signs of seriousness. Seven other people are cured and one person died .

Jérôme Salomon said that 35 people remain monitored “in strict confinement until next Sunday” on the Aix-en-Provence site, in a school of firefighters, after being tested negative twice.

Diamond Princess passengers disembarked

For the four French on board the liner Diamond Princess, placed in quarantine in Japan, the results remain unchanged. Of the four French on board, three passengers tested positive were hospitalized but “show no signs of seriousness,” said Jerome Salomon.

About 500 passengers disembarked from the Diamond Princess on Wednesday. Tokyo announced in the evening 79 new carriers of the coronavirus on board, bringing the total number of cases recorded onboard the Diamond Princess to 621, making this cruise ship docked in the port of Yokohama, in the suburbs of Tokyo, the largest outbreak of the virus outside of China.

Passengers without symptoms, whose tests were negative and who had no contact with people carrying the virus, disembarked throughout the day, after 14 days of quarantine in Japan. “I am relieved (…) I want to rest,” said a 77-year-old Japanese to journalists.

Those authorized to go out received an official certificate stating that they presented “no risk of infection with the new coronavirus”, nor symptoms at the time of the inspection.

Some in Japan were concerned, however, that the passengers of the ship were scattered in the wild or departed for their respective countries.

This concern over the virus also affects Russia, where no Chinese national will be able to enter from Thursday, the culmination of sanitary measures taken against the new coronavirus, despite the economic cost for tourism and border regions.

Announced Tuesday evening by a laconic decree, this decision leads to further tightening the already very strict regime intended to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Covid-19.

Officially, Russia has not had any patients with the new coronavirus on its territory since the discharge from hospital last week of the only two patients, Chinese nationals. Moscow had already closed its 4,250 km border with China, cut passenger rail links and restricted the number of flights to Chinese cities.

A cook protected by a mask in a restaurant in Shanghai, February 18, 2020
A cook protected by a mask in a restaurant in Shanghai, February 18, 2020. (© AFP / NOEL CELIS)

“Major failure”

In addition to the Diamond Princess at Yokohama, another cruise ship docked at Sihanoukville in southern Cambodia left dozens of tourists stranded so far on Wednesday after it was discovered that a passenger previously disembarked was carrying the coronavirus. They have all tested negative for the virus.

More than 1,200 passengers were allowed to disembark last week, some of whom were greeted by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in person, with lots of flowers and hugs.

Concerning the Diamond Princess blocked in Japan, for Kentaro Iwata, a professor in the division of infectious diseases of the University of Kobe interviewed by AFP, the quarantine on board the ship is “a major failure, an error” and justifies foreign “scepticism”.

The dozens of new cases seen onboard each day raised questions about the effectiveness of quarantine during which passengers were allowed to walk in small groups on the deck with masks, while flight attendants went from cabin to cabin to distribute meals.

Several countries have decided to send planes to repatriate their nationals without further delay. As for the crew, they will enter quarantine once the last passenger has left.

A man photographs dogs wearing protective masks in Shanghai on February 19, 2020.
A man photographs dogs wearing protective masks in Shanghai on February 19, 2020. (© AFP / NOEL CELIS)

” Too early “

In China, where the virus originated, the death toll exceeds 2,000, with more than 74,000 people infected. The semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong saw a second death and Iran announced two deaths.

Despite the magnitude of these figures, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday welcomed in Cairo the “enormous progress” made in the management of the epidemic.

“We have made huge progress in a short time,” said director of emergency measures in the eastern Mediterranean, Richard Brennan, at a press conference by the WHO regional office in Egypt.

“We can diagnose the virus everywhere now” and “effective health systems” have been put in place, said his side, the regional director of WHO Ahmed al-Mandhari. However, it is “too early to say that the virus has been contained,” said Dr. Brennan.

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