A plane carrying Ukrainian citizens and other nationals evacuated from Wuhan, China, arrived today at Kharkiv Airport in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior said in a statement.
The statement said border guards provided clearance for 94 people arriving on the special flight: 22 crew members and accompanying medical personnel, along with 72 passengers. The ministry said the passengers included 45 Ukrainian citizens and 27 citizens of other countries, including Argentina, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Montenegro, Panama and Israel.
Video released by the ministry showed border control inspectors carrying out their inspections in full protective gear.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defended the move, describing security measures on the flight as “unprecedented.” Passengers on board the aircraft, he added, were all healthy but would be quarantined and monitored over a period of 14 days at a medical facility belonging to the Ukrainian National Guard in the town of Novi Sanzhary.
Video circulating on social media showed local residents in the town protesting the arrival of evacuees, blocking roads and confronting police. In a Facebook post, Zelensky called on citizens to stop “attempts to block routes, block hospitals, not allow Ukrainian citizens into Ukraine."
“The evacuees will live at the National Guard's private medical center in Novi Sanzhary,” he said. “It will be completely isolated and put into strict bacteriological safety. Within two weeks it will probably be the safest object in the country. I sympathize with our evacuees, because I already know what it is like to be under personal protection, and their protection will be much more serious than that of the president.”
There are currently no diagnosed cases of coronavirus in Ukraine.