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Coronavirus

South Korea and India join Wuhan evacuations over coronavirus

US and Japan also readying charter flights as death toll tops 100

Medical workers in protective gear talk with a woman who may have contracted the coronavirus at a community health station in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 27.   © AP

SEOUL/NEW DELHI -- South Korea is preparing to extract its citizens from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, joining the U.S. and Japan in an expanding evacuation drive.

A total of 694 South Korean residents have applied for the charter flight, which is to depart on Thursday at the earliest.

The South Korean consulate general's office in Wuhan issued a statement on Monday saying it was arranging the flight.

Chinese nationals will not be allowed on board, even if they are family members of Korean citizens. This rule, the office said, complies with Chinese authorities' regulations. Individuals showing possible symptoms -- such as fever, coughing or vomiting -- will be denied permission to board as well.

On the day of the flight, the office said it will offer shuttle buses from four locations in the city to Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Passengers will be expected to pay a fee of 300,000 won ($255) per adult and 225,000 won per child by Feb. 28.

Upon arrival in South Korea, all passengers will be quarantined at a designated facility for 14 days, the consulate general's office said.

India, with no confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far, said on Tuesday it has started preparing to evacuate its citizens affected by the situation.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that New Delhi's embassy in Beijing "is working out the logistics" and is in touch with Chinese government authorities about the matter.

Chinese media on Tuesday reported that the death toll from the new virus had reached 106, with 4,428 confirmed cases. On Monday, the first death in Beijing was reported.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread internationally. There are confirmed cases in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the U.S., Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Australia, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, France and Cambodia.

Cambodia confirmed its first case on Monday.

The U.S. is set to fly citizens out of Wuhan on Wednesday. A chartered flight will depart from the international airport that morning bound for Ontario, California. Ontario is about 60 km east of downtown Los Angeles.

Japan, for its part, is aiming to send a plane to Wuhan on Tuesday. Its evacuation flight is expected to arrive back at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Wednesday.

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