A total of 533 Hongkongers, including 11 students taking the DSE exams this year, will be flown home from the mainland city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, a government official said on Tuesday.
Mainland affairs chief Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the returners included 14 pregnant women, 11 students taking the DSE exams this year, and 22 residents with medical conditions and in need of treatment.
Nip and immigration chief Erick Tsang Kwok-wai would go to Wuhan to lead the evacuation of the first batch of returners. But those infected with the coronavirus, as well as close contacts of the patients, would not be allowed to board the four aeroplanes which have been arranged to bring them home, he said.
More flights are expected later, with 3,800 Hongkongers stuck in more than 30 cities across Hubei province.
A 19-year-old DSE candidate was told by the central government that he would be leaving Wuhan on Wednesday or Thursday.
The student, who asked not to be named, did not know about the arrangements, including what kind of transport he would take to the airport or what time his flight would be. But he was not worried, he said, because he believed he would get those details later on Tuesday.
His biggest concern was not being prepared for his first exam on March 28. He had been struggling with the chemistry revision, he said, because he did not have the textbooks with him.
“It has been very difficult for me to do my revision,” said the student, who moved from Wuhan to Hong Kong with his family three years ago. “I don’t want to take the exams this month.”
He hoped the DSE would be postponed so he would have more time to prepare.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection said there was no evidence of community outbreaks although the coronavirus had infected 100 people in Hong Kong.