More than 500 Hong Kong residents stranded in Hubei Province for more than a month will be repatriated on charter flights in the coming days, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s top official, announced on Tuesday.
Those scheduled for repatriation include pregnant women, people requiring medical treatment or surgery, and 11 students scheduled to take university entrance exams, said Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs.
The evacuation comes after weeks of planning and mounting pressure from lawmakers. The Hong Kong government had previously cited public health risks and logistical challenges, as well as inadequate quarantine facilities, as a reason for not acting sooner.
“We do not feel that we have delayed the return of Hong Kong people stranded in Hubei,” Mrs. Lam said. “As you are aware, even up to this point, Hubei Province, particularly the city of Wuhan, is still under a very challenging situation,” she added, referring to the region at the center of the outbreak in China.
The evacuated residents will be quarantined at a converted public housing estate in the New Territories district of Fo Tan.
Reporting and research were contributed by Choe Sang-Hun, Benjamin Mueller, Marc Santora, Noah Weiland, Emily Cochrane, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Roni Caryn Rabin, Russell Goldman, Paul Mozur, Raymond Zhong, Aaron Krolik, Claire Fu and Elaine Yu.