Brazil draws up plan to evacuate nationals from China's coronavirus epicenter

SAO PAULO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Brazil’s government is drawing up a plan to evacuate Brazilian nationals from the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, President Jair Bolsonaro said in a statement on Sunday.

“Every Brazilian in the region who wants to return to Brazil will be brought back”, the statement said, adding that those who do come back would be placed in quarantine for a period.

The statement went on to say that the Brazilian Air Force was working on the plans, which could involve chartered flights.

Last week, Bolsonaro said repatriating Brazilians in the region would not be “opportune”, as it could put the population back home at risk. He also cited the cost of such an operation and noted that Brazilian law may not cover putting people in quarantine.

But he appears to have softened his stance. Over the weekend, Brazilians in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, posted a video appealing to Bolsonaro to get them out.

Brazil has 16 suspected cases of coronavirus, but no confirmed cases. (Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Alex Richardson)