Thailand to evacuate nationals from China virus centre "in matter of days" - govt

BANGKOK, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The evacuation of Thai nationals from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China could take place "in a matter of days", Thailand's government said on Saturday.

Three officials from the Thai embassy in Beijing are expected to reach Wuhan, the capital of the central province of Hubei where the outbreak began, on Sunday to help with the evacuation, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

"We have an increase from 161 to now 182 Thais in the area who have registered with us and we are verifying their documents," she told Reuters.

"The evacuation will be in a matter of days, likely after Feb. 2," she said.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had said the evacuation would take place on Saturday, but officials later said the date had not been fixed.

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Chinese authorities have suspended air, road, and rail travel in the area around Wuhan and Hubei province, and placed restrictions on travel and other activities throughout the country following the outbreak of the virus.

Thailand has confirmed 19 cases of coronavirus in the country. Seven people have recovered, while 12 have been hospitalised. (Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Neil Fullick)

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