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Wuhan evacuations: US to shut down consulate temporarily; bring back citizens


Wuhan evacuations: US to shut down consulate temporarily; bring back citizens

The United States is arranging a charter flight on Sunday to bring its citizens and diplomats back from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak of a new coronavirus, the Wall Stree Journal reported on Saturday.

The plane, with around 230 people, will carry diplomats from the U.S. consulate as well as U.S. citizens and their families, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the operation.

Washington was given approval for the operation from China's Foreign Ministry and other government agencies following negotiations in recent days, the newspaper said. The U.S. also plans to temporarily shut its Wuhan consulate, it said.

The death toll in China rose to 41 on Saturday from 26 a day earlier and more than 1,300 people have been infected globally with a virus traced to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife.

The decision to move U.S. consulate staff and families was due to the outbreak of the coronavirus "and logistical disruptions stemming from restricted transportation and overwhelmed hospitals in the city of Wuhan," the spokesperson said.

Wuhan said it would ban non-essential vehicles from its downtown starting Sunday to control the spread of the virus, further paralyzing a city of 11 million that has been on virtual lockdown since Thursday, with nearly all flights canceled and checkpoints blocking the main roads leading out of town.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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