Coronavirus – How Are Governments Dealing With Repatriation?

As concern over the Coronavirus grows globally, governments around the world have started to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan. These evacuations are being accomplished largely via air. However, how does a government cope with a sudden influx of people potentially infected with a deadly virus?

Coronavirus, evacuation, quarantine
Airlines around the world are taking action to deal with Coronavirus. Photo: Getty Images

In the past couple of months, the Wuhan Coronavirus has gone from nonexistent to dominating the headlines. In fact, the latest figures suggest that the virus has killed in excess of 130, with thousands more infected. As a result, the government of the United Kingdom has advised against all but the most essential travel to the whole of mainland China.


Governments around the world are now starting the task of repatriating their citizens stuck in the area surrounding Wuhan. Aircraft are being chartered with the sole intention of repatriating citizens. In fact, a Boeing 747 is currently en route back to the United States with US consular staff onboard.

The aircraft landed in Alaska to refuel en route from Wuhan to California. While in Alaska, passengers received a health screen, with an additional one on arrival in California. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Qantas is preparing to repatriate Australians from Wuhan, starting with the more vulnerable.

Coronavirus, evacuation, quarantine
Qantas is preparing to help evacuate Australians from Wuhan. Photo: Qantas

How to stop Coronavirus from spreading?

Of course, the whole reason that cities like Wuhan have been shut off is to stop the Coronavirus from spreading. It may seem strange that potentially infected individuals are being transferred to uninfected areas, risking spreading the virus. Governments have, however, thought this through.

Australians evacuated from Wuhan will be ferried to Christmas Island. Here, they will stay in an immigration detention center under quarantine for 14 days. If, after a fortnight, they are found to be without symptoms, they will be transferred back to the Australian mainland and considered to be healthy individuals.

Meanwhile, the British government is also preparing to quarantine Brits returning from Wuhan. According to the BBC, returning Britons will be quarantined for two weeks. However, the exact details are still being confirmed. Those returning to the United Kingdom could be held in a military facility.

British Airways, Coronavirus, China Cancellations
The UK government has advised against all but essential travel to the yellow area, and all travel to the red area. Image: OpenStreetMap/Simple Flying

What else is happening?

While governments are looking to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, airlines are considering the impact of the situation. This morning, British Airways announced that it would be suspending flights to mainland China until the end of the week. Other airlines that are cutting flights include United Airlines and Cathay Pacific. While British Airways has canceled flights on the advice of the government, United Airlines’ cancellations have been due to a sharp drop in demand.

Have you been evacuated from Wuhan? Were you due to travel to China? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.