By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - France’s government announced Sunday that it will repatriate hundreds of its citizens from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of a deadly coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 50 people so far and infected thousands of others.
The announcement was made by Minister of Health Agnes Buzyn.
Wuhan, the capital city of central Hubei province, is where the outbreak of the virus originated. It has now claimed the lives of 56 people, 15 since Saturday. Some 688 new cases have been reported over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,975 cases across China.
A meeting was held Sunday at Matignon, the prime minister's official residence, to discuss the return of French citizens living in Wuhan. The repatriation will take place in the middle of the week, said Buzyn, with a team of health experts waiting to attend to them when they land. They will be quarantined in a reception area for 14 days to avoid the possibility of infecting others.
Three people fell ill upon returning to France from China this past week, Buzyn said Friday: two in Paris and one in Bordeaux. They are still in the hospital in isolation. Six new cases are pending, with those people awaiting further testing.
French automaker Groupe PSA will also evacuate its employees and their families from Wuhan, confining them to quarantine in an undisclosed city.
Teams of doctors and other medical experts have already met citizens returning from China at France's Charles de Gaulle Airport to evaluate them for signs of the virus and to head off any possibility of its spreading.