A plane carrying five Swiss nationals and three of their Chinese family members has arrived near Marseille in France, after leaving Wuhan early Sunday morning.
The plane was chartered by the French government to repatriate some 250 people of 30 different nationalities, including French, Belgian, Austrian, and the five Swiss.
Though none of the passengers showed signs of suffering from the Coronavirus, they will spend the next 14 days quarantined in the French air base of Istres-Le-Tubé.
In a press releaseexternal link on Sunday, the Swiss foreign ministry said it had worked closely with French and Chinese authorities to prepare the “voluntary” repatriation of these citizens.
Initially, it was thought that 10 would return, but two chose shortly before departure to stay put in Wuhan, the foreign ministry said.
All passengers on the flight underwent medical tests prior to taking off and wore masks for the duration of the flight. Flight staff wore protective suits.
According to the foreign ministry, there are currently than 4,000 Swiss nationals in China and Hong Kong. Only ten were located in the vicinity of Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic that has so far claimed over 300 lives.
Also on Sunday, in an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, the Chinese ambassador in Bern said that all Chinese tourists and residents in Switzerland had been contacted. None presented any risk, he confirmed.