The European Union is working to repatriate about 600 citizens from 14 EU countries seeking to leave China because of a spreading new virus that has already killed more than 130 people.
European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday that the situation with the deadly virus centered on the Chinese city of Wuhan “is likely to get worse before it will get better.”
He said the EU has offered help to China to deal with the virus and can mobilize emergency financing and medical teams if needed.
“We are actively coordinating” with Chinese authorities to repatriate citizens from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Britain, he said.
He said the organization of the flights was still under way and couldn’t give details on when the evacuation flights would leave or what destinations they would involve. The United States and Japan have already evacuated some citizens from the affected area in China.
Chinese officials said Wednesday the death toll from the virus rose to 132, with confirmed infections jumping to 5,974 cases. Scientists say there are still many questions to be answered about the new virus, including just how transmissible and severe it is.
In China’s Hubei province, 17 cities including Wuhan have been locked down, trapping more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed.