The government plans to send a fifth chartered flight to Hubei province in China as early as this week to evacuate its nationals and their family members from the center of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Monday.
“With the fifth flight, we will call it a day for now for our operations bringing back Japanese people by chartered planes,” Motegi told reporters, calling on citizens hoping to return home not to miss the flight.
The operations brought back a total of 763 Japanese nationals and their families between Jan. 28 and Friday, with four chartered flights sent to the city of Wuhan.
There remain dozens of people in Hubei wishing to come back to Japan, including government officials tasked with supporting Japanese nationals on their return home, sources familiar with the situation said.
Initially, the government considered getting Japanese nationals to travel to airports outside Hubei where regular flights are still in operation. With a fall in such regular flights, however, it decided to send the fifth chartered flight.
Speaking to a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will draw up emergency measures this week to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’ll develop and execute as many measures as possible, using budget reserves,” Abe said.
Such measures are expected to include the development of easy-to-use test kits and support for small companies mainly in the tourism sector.