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Violence Greets Wuhan Evacuees Upon Arrival In Ukrainian Town

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Violence Flares In Ukraine As Evacuees Arrive From China
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WATCH: Violence Flares In Ukraine As Evacuees Arrive From China

Violence erupted as the first group of Ukrainians evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan -- the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- arrived in the town of Novi Sanzhary in the central region of Poltava.

Residents opposing the move to bring the potentially infected people to the area on February 20 threw stones at the evacuees and clashed with police.

Ukrainian authorities said 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreigners, as well as medical personnel and crew members were aboard the plane that had evacuated the group from Wuhan.

The nationalities of the foreign citizens were not immediately known.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Facebook on February 20 that the plane carrying both Ukrainians and several foreigners made a quick stop to refuel at Kyiv's Borispil Airport before landing in Kharkiv, where the group was bused to the designated place of quarantine.

Zelenskiy said all the people who arrived from Wuhan will be quarantined for 14 days in the National Guard's medical center in Novi Sanzhary.

Masked evacuees peered through bus windows as they drove under a heavy police escort.

Stones had shattered a window on one of the buses, but it was not clear if there were any injuries on the vehicle.

A police statement said that nine officers and one civilian were hospitalized following the clashes and that 24 protesters had been detained. Authorities said 23 of the detainees were released within hours.

Ukrainian Health Minister Zoryana Skaletska said on February 20 that "fake information" about alleged coronavirus cases in Ukraine had caused the panic.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said a fake e-mail that purported to be from Ukraine's Health Ministry had been sent to the ministry's entire contact list.

The SBU said the fake e-mail originated outside Ukraine and it was being investigated.

Zelenskiy said the protesters had displayed "not the best side of our character" and insisted that the quarantined individuals would not pose a threat to residents.

In an effort to reassure residents, Ukrainian Health Minister Zoryana Skaletska said she would live with the evacuees in quarantine for two weeks.

Separately, in the western region of Lviv, protesters blocked one of the highways for a short time amid rumors that some of those evacuated from Wuhan could be placed in quarantine in a military hospital in the area. Local authorities denied the rumors.

China has reported 2,233 deaths from the disease, with about 75,000 total infections.

The World Health Organization has said that 1,076 cases have been reported in nearly 30 other countries.

Authorities have put Wuhan, with a population of some 11 million people, in a virtual lockdown, and most countries have evacuated their nationals from the city, putting them in some form of quarantine.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and Ukrayinska Pravda
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