On Saturday morning, the Boeing 767 “Jupiter” of the Colombian Air Force departed Bogotá on a 30-hour journey to repatriate 14 Colombians and 3 foreigners from the quarantined Chinese city of Wuhan. Called “Operación Wuhan,” the flight included refueling stops at Scott AFB in Illinois and Anchorage, Alaska, before landing on Sunday in Seoul, South Korea. Commandeering the rescue mission is Coronel Eduardo “Mapache” Restrepo, accompanied by the Air Force flight crew, doctors and nurses from the Colombian Red Cross and National Health Institute. The plane was disinfected before departing the military base Catam and seats were adapted to flatbeds in order to accommodate passengers.
The experienced Air Force officers Restrepo, Robles, Aros and Córtes will arrive in Wuhan on Tuesday, where, during four hours they will receive the passengers, but without leaving the aircraft. The flight then departs to Mumbai, India, and Sevilla, Spain, before crossing the Atlantic to arrive in Bogotá late Thursday.
The Colombian government is footing the bill for the flight, and the Air Force crew members are not receiving additional compensation for the efforts to bring back their fellow citizens and three extranjeros.
Once the passengers arrive in Bogotá they will be quarantined in an undisclosed location within the city for two weeks even though none of the former Wuhan residents show symptoms of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. After weeks in the planning to facilitate every detail of a round-the-world flight that includes landing-permits at military bases and the transport of specialized biomedical equipment, according to the Ministry of Health, different locations across the country were scouted to house the Colombians and foreigners, including hotels in Santa Marta, Barranquilla and Melgar. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the location of the quarantine will be revealed once the crew, medics and passengers are safely back home.