January 26, 2020 / 4:21 AM / 23 days ago

U.S. to evacuate consulate staff, some citizens from Wuhan

Medical and railway station staff members load boxes of protective masks and other supplies onto a train as a team of medical professionals from Jiangsu province departs to provide aid to Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, at the Nanjing Railway Station, in Jiangsu province, China January 25, 2020. Picture taken January 25, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Sunday it will evacuate personnel from its Wuhan consulate to the United States and will offer a limited number of seats to private U.S. citizens on a flight out of the epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak.

The State Department, in an emailed statement, said some private U.S. citizens will be able to board a “single flight” leaving Wuhan on Jan. 28 bound for San Francisco, requesting those interested to contact the U.S. embassy in Bejing with their personal information.

“This capacity is extremely limited and if there is insufficient ability to transport everyone who expresses interest, priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus,” said the statement.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China, is in virtual lockdown following a deadly outbreak of a new coronavirus that emerged there at the end of last year. Public transport, including airplanes and trains, have been suspended.

Other countries, including France and Australia, have said they are considering options to get their citizens out of Wuhan.

China’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued on Saturday it is making arrangements and providing assistance to the U.S. government to facilitate the evacuation.

Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Michael Perry and Tom Hogue

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