Foreigners prepare to flee as China virus toll tops 106, and 4,500 confirmed cases

A number of countries are chartering flights to evacuate their citizens from the coronavirus ravage China.

China deploys army medics to overwhelmed virus epicentre
The United States, Japan other nations raced Tuesday to get their citizens out of the locked-down Chinese city at ground zero of a virus epidemic, as the death toll surged to 106 and the number of confirmed infections doubled to over 4,500.

The contagion, which experts believe emanated from a wild animal market in the city of Wuhan last month, has triggered a desperate Chinese containment effort after spreading nationwide and to more than a dozen other countries.

The government has sealed off Wuhan and other cities in central Hubei province, effectively trapping more than 50 million people, including thousands of foreigners, in a bid to contain the virus as the high-travel Lunar New Year holiday unfolds.

"It's deeply stressful," Joseph Pacey, a 31-year-old Briton who teaches English in Wuhan, told AFP.

"The virus is scary, but the biggest fear for me is that this thing will go on for months, and it will get harder and harder to get supplies, and to live."

Governments are scrambling to devise ways to safely get their citizens out of the city of 11 million.

Japan announced it would send a chartered flight to Wuhan on Tuesday evening to evacuate about 200 of 650 Japanese nationals.

"We will also bring with it aid supplies such as masks and protective suits for Chinese people as well as for Japanese nationals," Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in Tokyo.

Motegi said the plane would leave Wuhan on Wednesday morning, and that efforts were being made ot organise more flights.

- Flight delays -

The United States was also trying to organise a rescue mission.

A chartered California-bound flight with limited space had been scheduled to leave Wuhan on Tuesday with consular staff and some American citizens.

But the State Department said it was postponed to Wednesday, without giving a reason.

France has also said it intends to fly its citizens out of the city in the middle of this week.

Several other countries also were working to repatriate their people, while Germany said it was considering doing so. Read More

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