A military airplane carrying a group of mostly Portuguese nationals who were stuck in coronavirus-hit Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, touched down in Lisbon late on Sunday.
The Minister of Health, Marta Temido, said all 20 evacuees, including two Brazilians, agreed to be kept in isolation for 14 days as a preventive measure, a protocol followed by several other European nations. Portuguese law states that compulsory hospitalisation is reserved for cases related to mental illness, meaning the 20 evacuees had to place themselves into voluntary self-isolation.
All group members, which also included two Portuguese diplomats, were subjected to various medical tests - before taking off and after arrival - to check if they had symptoms of coronavirus.
The evacuees were part of a larger group of 250 repatriated European nationals who landed at a military airbase in southern France on Sunday morning.
So far all of the he laboratory tests that were carried out on the Portuguese citizens arriving from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus was first detected, "were all negative," the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) said today. "Citizens will continue to be accompanied by two doctors from Sanidade Internacional, who will guarantee active surveillance twice a day and will always be available for contact," says DGS, in a statement sent to the newsrooms.
The group of returnees arrived on Sunday night at the military airport of Figo Maduro, Lisbon, following the outbreak of acute respiratory disease due to a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has already killed 360 and infected 14,000 people. When they arrived in Portugal, all individuals were evaluated by doctors from the International Health Team.
They were installed "in institutions dedicated to this purpose in the Pulido Valente Hospital (Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Norte) and in the Parque da Saúde de Lisboa, where they will remain in prophylactic isolation for 14 days", says the DGS. "Upon arrival at these facilities, a team from the National Health Institute of Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA) proceeded to collect biological samples for laboratory tests". The results of the tests carried out by INSA were negative, meaning that in the group of repatriated citizens, there are currently no people infected with the virus.
According to authorities, the group is composed of 20 people - 18 civilians (16 Portuguese and two Brazilians) and two people from the diplomatic corps. They travelled accompanied by eight crew members and eight health professionals, these from the Air Force, the National Institute for Medical Emergency (INEM) and an International Health team, coordinated by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).
Upon arrival of the C-130 plane at the military airport of Figo Maduro, in Lisbon, around 8:30 pm, passengers were moved to the departure lounge to assess their medical history and other factors. "For security reasons, for themselves and for the community, for the next 14 days, the whole group will be in prophylactic isolation. This option is based on the epidermal phase in which we find ourselves at the international level, the containment phase is in line with what is being done by other countries and had the approval of the 20 individuals", stressed the Minister of Health Marta in a press conference at the Ministry of Health after the arrival of the plane on Sunday.