Germany plans to evacuate citizens from Wuhan: Der Spiegel

People wearing face masks use their cellphones at the Tiananmen Square, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China January 27, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will become the latest country to evacuate its citizens from China’s coronavirus-struck Wuhan region, with the German air force repatriating 90 Germans living in the area, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday.

The epidemic, which originated in Wuhan city, has claimed 81 lives in China so far and has affected more than 2,800 people globally, most of them in China.

Germany will join France, Portugal, Spain, Britain and the United States which have various plans to evacuate staff and citizens.

Der Spiegel said Germany and China had been engaged in discussions over whether Berlin could deploy military aircraft to carry out the evacuation, with Beijing wanting civilian aircraft to be used instead.

“The crisis team has decided that the government is in principle ready to evacuate German citizens who are not ill,” a German Foreign Ministry official said. “Operational questions still need to be settled, including with the Chinese side.”

Military sources told Reuters a troop transport plane would be made available if German citizens were flown out.

Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Lisa Shumaker