Plane carrying Japanese evacuees from Wuhan lands in Tokyo

  • China
  • Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020

Takeo Aoyama, centre left, an employee at Nippon Steel Corp’s subsidiary in Wuhan, China, and Takayuki Kato, centre right, an employee at an information and communications technology company Intec, speak to journalists after returning home via a Japanese chartered plane at Haneda international airport in Tokyo Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. - AP

TOKYO (Agencies): A plane carrying Japanese nationals evacuated from Wuhan, landed on Wednesday (Jan 29) at a Tokyo airport.

An AFP reporter saw the plane arrive at Haneda airport around 8.45am local time, with officials saying 206 people were on board.

Airport workers wearing face masks immediately began unloading luggage from the aircraft, and several buses pulled up, but there was no immediate sign of passengers leaving the plane.

Two Japanese men who were on the plane said they felt relieved but also exhausted upon their arrival in Tokyo.

Takeo Aoyama who works for Nippon Steel Corp and Takayuki Kato, who works for Intec, both wore masks but said they felt fine.

Kato said he was not panicking in Wuhan, but "I was shocked when all transportation systems were suspended. That’s when the situation drastically changed."

China cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to try to contain the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus that has infected thousands of people.

Aoyama said many people who wish to go home to Japan are still in Wuhan, including workers at a Japanese supermarket chain staying open to supply food.

He said it is important to step up preventive measures in Japan, but "I hope we can also provide support for the Chinese people, which I think would also help the Japanese people who are still there.”

Earlier, health ministry officials said medical professionals on board the flight would carry out health checks but that there were no plans to quarantine the arriving passengers.

The flight arrives as several countries work to extract their nationals from Wuhan, with an American charter flight also due to leave the city on Wednesday, bound for an airport in the Los Angeles area.

The Japanese flight arrived in Wuhan overnight carrying emergency relief supplies including 15,000 masks, 50,000 pairs of gloves and 8,000 protective glasses, the foreign ministry said.

Around four medical officials were also on board to monitor returning passengers.

Government officials said Tuesday that evacuees would be asked to fill out a health questionnaire and that anyone displaying symptoms on the flight would be taken to hospital immediately upon arrival in Japan.

All passengers were expected to be tested for the new strain of coronavirus, which has killed more than 100 people and infected thousands.

The evacuees would be asked to remain at home and avoid crowds at least until the results of the test were known, officials said.

Those who live in and near Tokyo will be allowed to head home, while those living further away will be taken to local hotels initially.

Japan's health ministry has so far confirmed seven cases of the virus in the country, including one man who had not travelled to China.

The man from the western region of Nara had driven a tour bus with tourists from Wuhan twice in January, the health ministry said. - AFP/AP

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