A French military aircraft has taken off from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in China where the coronavirus first appeared, carrying 12 Belgians on their way home via quarantine.
The 12 are part of a passenger list including French, Dutch, Danish, Czech and Slovak nationals. The French passengers will be dropped off first near Marseilles, and the aircraft will make its way to Melsbroek military airport close to Zaventem. From there, the Belgians will be transported to the military hospital at Neder-Over-Heembeek to spend 14 days in quarantine.
None of the 53 passengers on the airlift is showing any signs of the disease. Should any signs become clear during the period of quarantine, the person affected will be transferred to the reference hospital for the disease – St-Pierre hospital in the centre of Brussels.
The other nationalities on the flight will be taken on to their own countries either by plane or bus, the transport organised by their own governments.
According to the latest figures from China, the number of confirmed infections by the virus has now reached more than 14,300, with 305 fatalities. Another 500 are said to be in a life-threatening condition. And the first fatal case of coronavirus infection has now occurred outside of China, concerning a 44-year-old Chinese man who has died in the Philippines. The man, from Wuhan itself, has been in treatment for the infection since 25 January. His wife, who was travelling with him, remains ill.
Meanwhile the EU has sent a shipment of 12 tonnes of protective clothing to the affected region, the EU Commission announced. The shipment was brought together out of donations by member states.