“Tired but relieved” were 18 Portuguese who arrived in Portugal last night, after being airlifted out of China’s coronavirus epicentre Wuhan.
The group included two diplomats and a further two Brazilians – whose own government is under fire for dragging its feet over the repatriation of nationals.
The 20 men and women of varying ages are now all in voluntary quarantine in two Lisbon hospitals (Pulido Valente and Parque da Saúde).
None are exhibiting any symptoms of the virus that has prompted the World Health Organisation to declare a global public health emergency (click here).
They will now all spend two weeks in ‘isolation’, receiving no visits.
At the end of the two-week period, if the new arrivals continue to be symptom-free, the understanding is that they will be able to return to everyday life.
Meantime, also last night, Portugal received a private flight of 11 passengers and three crew-members that set off from China a fortnight ago and had been refused entry by several countries, including the Bahamas which had been its destination of choice.
The private plane finally touched down in Ponta Delgada, Azores – again with none of the occupants on board displaying any symptoms of coronavirus.
Because they had effectively spent the period of quarantine flying from country-to-country (never leaving the plane), the occupants were deemed safe to disembark and apparently spent the night in a local hotel.
Say reports, they will be continuing on to France today.
Azores’ regional coordinator of public health Ana Rita Eusébio guaranteed that there was “no risk to public health” as a result of the plane’s arrival.
It has to be stressed that despite some countries issuing ‘entrance bans’ to anyone who has been in China, the WHO is opposed to “all travel restrictions” on the basis that they “can be ineffective, disrupt the distribution of aid and have negative effects on the economy of the affected countries”.
According to international media, this particular coronavirus outbreak is already making itself felt on the world economy as Chinese businesses are basically in lockdown.
Says the Wall Street Journal this morning: “Uncertainty over the virus—which has infected more than 14,500 people— has disrupted worldwide trade and supply chains, depressed asset prices, and forced multinational businesses to make hard decisions with limited information”.
The UK Guardian says stock markets in China have seen the biggest daily fall for five years “as traders rushed to sell amid continuing fears” about the impact of the epidemic on the global economy.
As an equities market strategist told the paper: ““No one cares about the Middle East, no one cares about Brexit if China is wobbly” particularly as there is “no way China is going to be consuming anything if they’re shut down.”