South Korea's third evacuation flight from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan arrived back in Seoul on Wednesday, carrying about 140 of its citizens, their Chinese spouses and family members, with five of them showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
The chartered plane landed at Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul at 6:23 a.m. The passengers with the symptoms were sent to a hospital for additional medical checks and treatment.
The evacuation mission came less than a fortnight after two flights brought back a total of 701 nationals from the city amid growing fears over the spread of the deadly virus that has sickened more than dozens of people in South Korea.
Among the passengers on the third flight were some 60 Chinese nationals who boarded the plane with their South Korean family members with the approval from the Chinese authorities.
Seoul initially planned to bring to Korea about 170 people, including 70 Chinese, on the latest flight. It remains unknown why some of them did not board the plane.
The evacuees are to be screened for possible infection before being transported to temporary accommodations at the Korea Defense Language Institute in Icheon, 80 kilometers south of Seoul, where they will stay for 14 days, the virus' incubation period.
Amid the mounting dread of the virus that emerged in Wuhan in December, South Korea has been beefing up quarantine efforts, as well as its diplomacy to ensure the safety of its citizens in Wuhan and its vicinity.
There are still an estimated 100 South Koreans in the epicenter of the epidemic, raising expectations that Seoul could mull sending another flight.
More than two dozen people in South Korea have been confirmed to have contracted the virus. There have been no fatalities. In China alone, the death toll of the virus has topped 1,100, with the number of confirmed cases exceeding 44,000. (Yonhap)