2000 Taiwanese businesspeople grounded in Wuhan during LNY holiday

Lockdown on central Chinese city effective Jan. 23 applies to air, ground transportation

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(AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As Chinese authorities have locked down Wuhan, the epicenter of the potentially deadly coronavirus outbreak, around 2,000 Taiwanese businesspeople in the city are believed to have been prevented from returning home to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday with their families.

According to media reports, all public and air transportation systems in Wuhan have all been suspended since Thursday morning (Jan. 23) after the number of confirmed cases in China skyrocketed to 571 and the official death toll rose to 17. To prevent the spread of the virus, citizens are not allowed to leave the city.

Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation confirmed the news, saying a total of 12 outbound flights from Wuhan to Taiwan have been suspended under the new quarantine order, with around 2,000 Taiwanese businesspeople likely stranded in the city.

The flights being affected include those operated by China Airlines (Mondays and Thursdays: Taoyuan-Wuhan); China Eastern Airlines (Mondays and Thursdays: Taoyuan-Wuhan); China Southern Airlines (Fridays: Taoyuan-Wuhan); Mandarin Airlines (Wednesdays and Saturdays: Taipei-Wuhan); China Eastern Airlines (Fridays and Sundays: Kaohsiung-Wuhan); and China Southern Airlines (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays: Kaohsiung-Wuhan).

However, the chairman of the Taiwanese business association in Wuhan told CNA that the information is not correct and that a majority of the more than 2,000 Taiwanese businesspeople have returned home as scheduled, with only a small number of them stranded.

Meanwhile, around 130 people in 8 tour groups from Wuhan have been closely monitored during their stay in Taiwan. The tourists have been asked to wear masks at all times in enclosed areas and to take their temperatures every day. The last group is scheduled to leave on Jan. 28, according to the tourism bureau.

Taiwan's immigration office also announced it has abolished permits issued to the tour groups from Wuhan scheduled to arrive before the end of January in light of the outbreak. Up to 429 people in 24 tour groups are affected.