“The Hungarians stranded in Wuhan could be brought home with French assistance; the aeroplane that will be transporting them is expected to leave the Chinese city in the small hours of Friday morning”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Minister of State for Information and the International Representation of Hungary Tamás Menczer said at a press conference in Budapest on Thursday.

“There are currently eight Hungarian citizens in the closed-off Hubei province, six in Wuhan and two in other cities”, Mr. Menczer highlighted. “They are all well, have not become ill, and seven of them would like to leave China”, he said. “From the several possible opportunities, what currently seems most likely is that the Hungarian citizens will be brought out by a French aeroplane, which will be leaving China in the small hours of Friday morning”, he explained. “The Hungarians are expected to arrive near Marseille on Saturday, from where they will be brought home to Hungary for two weeks of observation at the Szent László Hospital in Budapest”, he stated.

The Minister of State also spoke about the fact that a French plane is already in the air, having received the required permits, but is only bringing out French citizens. “The second aeroplane, which is expected to leave early on Friday morning, does not have the required permits as yet, but there is a good chance that it will receive them. We are in continuous negotiation concerning the issue, and France has indicated from the beginning that it will be bringing the seven Hungarians in question out, and has confirmed this on several occasions”, he added. “A Hungarian consul from Paris will be travelling on the plane as a coordinator”, he noted. He also said that the seven Hungarian citizens will be able to get to the airport within the allotted time, adding that the Ministry has begun preparations to transport the Hungarians home from France, and will be sending a plane to fetch them on Saturday.

With relation to the other possibilities, Mr. Menczer said that there was also a Portuguese plan, but that wasn’t very realistic. “There was also a British opportunity, but it was uncertain for a long time, because the plane did not receive the required permits from the Chinese authorities. We have just received news that there is a plane that will be allowed to take off from Wuhan in Spanish-British cooperation in a few hours, but the deadline is so short that the Hungarians wouldn’t make it to the airport in time, in addition to which it is uncertain whether the plane is authorised to take off, so we will not be making use of this opportunity”, he stated. He noted that there was also a German plan; a plane was planned to take off from Wuhan on Friday, but once again, the required permits have not been provided by the Chinese authorities, and there was no clear indication that they would be prepared to also bring the Hungarians out.

The Minister of State confirmed that the government is not aware of any Hungarians who have been taken ill by the disease either abroad or at home, and are also not aware of any foreign citizens who were previously infected by the virus and who are now in Hungary. “We do not recommend that anyone travels to China’s Hubei province”, he stated.