Reports by LOH FOON FONG, WANI MUTHIAH, CLARISSA CHUNG, M. SIVANANTHA SHARMA, MANJIT KAUR, VENESA DEVI, STEPHANIE LEE and NG ZHE QUN
KLANG: Malaysians, as well as their family members, trapped in Wuhan, China, will be flown back home at the soonest today under strict supervision.
Wuhan, a city in central China’s Hubei province, has been placed on lockdown since Jan 23, following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said 132 people had registered with the Malaysian Embassy in China.
Out of the group, 108 are Malaysians while the remaining 24 are foreigners.
“The 24 people who are non-Malaysians are the spouses and children of the Malaysians who will be coming back, ’’ Dr Wan Azizah told reporters after attending the Klang Hokkien Association’s Chinese New Year open house celebrations here yesterday.
She said out of the 132 people, only those who were found to be healthy during the exit screening at the Wuhan airport would be allowed to board the flight to come home.Exit screening by the local authorities will be held and decided at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport for the Malaysia-bound flight.
According to Dr Wan Azizah, there were negotiations with the Chinese government through the Foreign Ministry following the Cabinet’s decision to bring Malaysians back home given China’s lockdown of the coronavirus-afflicted district.
The negotiations also involved the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) as well as AirAsia which will be flying the Malaysians and their family members home.
A media statement by NaDMA, which is headed by Dr Wan Azizah, stated that an aircraft belonging to AirAsia, manned by a 12-member crew as well as carrying items such as masks, gloves and edibles, would be deployed to bring the 132 people back.
AirAsia has scheduled the flight today but it was subject to the Chinese government’s approval.
Dr Wan Azizah said that once the Malaysians touch down in KLIA, a screening would once again be conducted.
Those who are healthy will be brought to a quarantine centre where they will be monitored for a fortnight.
She added that arrangements have also been made to attend to those who show symptoms upon their arrival in Malaysia.
“We have set up ICU (intensive care unit) settings so that they will be very isolated and won’t pose a danger to other Malaysians, especially to the frontliners, ’’ said Dr Wan Azizah.
She said an entourage of eight officers would leave for Wuhan to escort the 132 people back.
“Six officers will be from the Health Ministry, one from NaDMA and one from the Foreign Ministry, ’’ she added.
The team will join the earlier team, six officers from the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing who travelled by road to Wuhan, to bring back the Malaysians.
They travelled in cars for over 17 hours, beginning their 1,700km journey from the embassy in Beijing at 10.30am the day before.
The six-man advance team went into action by setting up a secretariat the moment they arrived in the city soon before 4am yesterday.
Malaysian Ambassador to China Raja Datuk Nushirwan Zainal Abidin said the team had been in touch with the local authorities to sort out the final details and refine the plan.
“Everything has been going smoothly. On our part, everything is in order and we also know the locations of Malaysians there, ” he said.