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S. Korea in talks with China to send new evacuation flight Friday night to virus-hit Wuhan

All News 14:13 January 31, 2020

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is in talks with Chinese authorities over its plan to send another flight to the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday night to bring home its remaining citizens there, a foreign ministry official said.

Kang Hyung-shik, head of the ministry's international safety management bureau, made the remarks hours after the first evacuation plane carrying nearly 370 South Koreans from the epicenter of the deadly virus arrived in Seoul. Currently about 350 citizens are awaiting evacuation.

"We are smoothly conducting consultations with the Chinese authorities to ensure that a new flight can operate tonight as we have planned," he said during a press briefing in Seoul.

"We are making our best efforts to make sure things will proceed as planned," he added.

Should it get approval from the Chinese authorities, the new flight could depart late at night. Thursday's evacuation flight took off from Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, at 8:57 p.m.

"We are in consultations (with China) to send the flight as early as possible," another foreign ministry official told reporters. "But we don't know yet the exact time of departure."

Earlier in the day, South Korea reported its seventh confirmed case of the virus, further deepening public anxiety. A day earlier, the country announced the first case of person-to-person transmission on its soil.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, has been under a lockdown aimed at blocking the spread of the virus.

Since the novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan late last month, China has reported more than 9,690 confirmed cases and 210 deaths. The virus has spread to around 20 countries, including the U.S., Japan and Canada.

South Korea's first evacuation flight to bring its citizens home from coronavirus-hit Wuhan, China, sits at Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul on Jan. 31, 2020. (Yonhap)


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