Coronavirus: repatriation operation goes ahead in Wuhan

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV – Repatriation operations involving direct flights organized by France – Communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Paris, 3 February 2020

Within the framework of the response to the crisis linked to the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) coordinated by the Ministry for Solidarity and Health, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs planned, in conjunction with the Ministry for Solidarity and Health, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry for the Armed Forces, an operation to return to European territory by direct flight from Wuhan (China) those French nationals and citizens from Europe and partner countries who wished to return.

In a spirit of European solidarity and in order to give European countries the opportunity to allow those citizens wishing to do so to take advantage of the flights it was providing, France took the initiative on 28 January to activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. From the outset, foreign nationals, especially European nationals, were included in the planning of the repatriation operations.

The first flight on board a military plane belonging to Esterel Squadron (Airbus A340) left Wuhan and returned 180 French nationals to France on 31 January.

A second civilian plane (Airbus A380), which also departed from Wuhan, landed in Istres on 2 February at 2.30 p.m. with 291 people from 30 countries, including France, on board:

- 254 passengers: 64 French nationals and eligible persons as well as 190 foreigners, including 135 nationals from the EU (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden) and 55 nationals of third countries (Brazil, Georgia, North Macedonia, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, the United Kingdom, Rwanda, Serbia, the Seychelles and Switzerland);

- 37 support staff, including 31 French nationals (25 government officials and six employees of the aircraft charter company) and six consular officials of third countries;

The two planes chartered by the French government also delivered medical equipment to Wuhan, donated by France to China to help address the coronavirus crisis.

At the request of the countries concerned, most European nationals were transferred to their countries of origin immediately upon arrival in France.

Very strict health measures have been applied to the entire operation; in particular, a 14-day quarantine is required upon arrival. This measure applies to both citizens and foreigners residing on French soil.

This operation was conducted by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ Crisis and Support Centre (CDCS) in coordination with the Ministry for Solidarity and Health, the Ministry for the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior. It was also carried out in close coordination with foreign partners, notably European institutions, EU member states and third countries concerned.

France wishes to emphasize the effective cooperation with the Chinese authorities that made the smooth conduct of this operation possible. Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in fact discussed this subject with his counterpart, Wang Yi.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs remains particularly attentive to the concerns of our compatriots abroad. Since 23 January, our embassy in Beijing, our consulate-general in Wuhan and Ministry departments have mobilized all their efforts in response to the coronavirus crisis. France’s consulate-general in Wuhan is in constant contact with our compatriots in Hubei and is monitoring their situation. The Minister publicly applauded the services of the Quai d’Orsay’s Crisis and Support Centre, our embassy in Beijing and our Consulate-General in Wuhan, which were “exemplary” and were “utterly at the service of our compatriots to reassure them on one hand, and to help repatriate them on the other.”./.

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV – Excerpt from the press briefing given by Mme Agnès Buzyn, Minister for Solidarity and Health

Paris, 26 January 2020


THE MINISTER – This evening we had an interministerial meeting at Matignon [the Prime Minister’s residence]. The Prime Minister decided this evening to respond to the concerns of our fellow citizens currently in Wuhan and particularly to their request to return to France. Our Consulate General’s team over there is in contact with French nationals 24/7 and is obviously getting information and advice, but the Consulate is obviously drawing up a list of everyone who would like to be repatriated to our country. The Prime Minister has asked for repatriation to be organized on a direct flight to France, with the agreement of the Chinese authorities. This repatriation will take place in the middle of the week. A dedicated medical team will accompany the return. The Health Ministry is already putting together the team. And to avoid any spread of the virus on national territory, those repatriated will be given a medical check-up by health professionals and remain in a reception centre for 14 days.

Q. – When you say direct repatriation, does that mean you’re no longer talking about a bus to Changsha?

THE MINISTER – We’re organizing a direct flight from Wuhan. This is the wish the Chinese authorities have expressed today.

Q. – How many people does this involve?

THE MINISTER – For the moment we’re in the process of drawing up a list. It could range from a few dozen to a few hundred, so we’re drawing up a list of our fellow citizens who wish to go home, in the knowledge that some wish to go home but don’t wish to be in a reception centre for 14 days, so they also need to take that constraint on board.

Q. – Has the centre been decided on?

THE MINISTER – We’re in the process of deciding. (…)./.

China – Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – Communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Paris, 23 January 2020

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and our diplomatic and consular network are fully mobilized in the face of the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) crisis.

The Crisis and Support Centre of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the French Embassy in Beijing and all of our consulates general in China, has established a specific, permanent monitoring mechanism to respond to the concerns of French citizens./.

Published on 07/02/2020

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