Germany may evacuate its citizens from China because of the spreading coronavirus, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said. He also urged Germans not to make any “unnecessary trips” to China.
“We are checking and preparing for all options; that means we are also considering a possible evacuation of all those willing to leave,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at a press conference with EU High Representative Josep Borrell in Berlin.
A ministry spokeswoman told the DPA news agency that there were around 90 Germans living in Wuhan.
These included “citizens who live, work, study, or are married,” she said. “We have no indication at the moment that any Germans are affected by the illness.”
“All citizens should keep up with the Foreign Ministry travel advice, which is being updated daily,” Maas said. “Travelers should consider delaying or canceling non-essential journeys to China.”
A consular team is being sent from Beijing to Wuhan, where the virus broke out, this evening to get an idea of the situation on the ground.
Maas also said that a government crisis management team was meeting in his ministry to discuss further steps, with experts from the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s leading public health body, being consulted.
Earlier on Monday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn told the DPA news agency that Germany had pandemic plans in place should the virus break out. “We are fundamentally very vigilant, we take things very seriously, but we are well-prepared,” he said.
Borrell added that the EU Commission was coordinating with member states over its response to the outbreak, with a health ministers’ summit being organized to establish how suspected cases would be dealt with and reported. He said the EU was also in contact with the World Health Organization (WHO).
France has confirmed three cases of the virus, which has killed over 80 people in China and infected at least 2,800 people. Both France and the US, which has also had a handful of confirmed cases, are also organizing evacuations.
A few cases have also been confirmed in several Asian countries, as well as Australia and Canada.