FRANKFURT, GERMANY (AP) — European governments ramped up flights on Saturday to bring their citizens back from China amid the outbreak of a new virus that has sickened thousands of people.
A German air force plane arrived in Frankfurt carrying 128 passengers who were expected to spend two weeks quarantined at a military base. Russia sent military aircraft to evacuate citizens from Wuhan and other areas of China most affected by the virus.
The German plane’s arrival was delayed after it was refused permission to stop in Moscow to refuel and change crews. Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the aircraft received clearance to fly over but not to land because of what Russian authorities said was insufficient capacity.
“Together with the Foreign Ministry, we will certainly discuss next week what other reasons there are beyond the official explanation about insufficient capacity at the Moscow airport,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency cited an unnamed aviation source as saying Russia was not giving permission to any third-country evacuation flights to make stops. Russia’s aviation authority could not be reached for comment.The Bavaria state Health Ministry on Saturday night reported Germany’s eighth confirmed case of the new virus, a 33-year-old man who lives in Munich and works for the same company as six of the other infected patients.
The news brought the total number of people in Europe known to be infected with the virus up to 23: Germany with eight, France with six, Russia, Italy and the United Kingdom (UK) with two a piece, and Finland, Sweden and Spain each with one.
Of the 180 French people flown back from Wuhan on Friday, one showed symptoms of being infected with the virus and was sent to a Marseille hospital for testing, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said.