Germany has repatriated more than 160,000 of its nationals from abroad as borders close due to the coronavirus pandemic, foreign minister Heiko Maas said Saturday.
The foreign ministry had earlier estimated that around 200,000 Germans were stranded abroad and seeking repatriation.
Most were tourists who found themselves stuck after the country they were visiting closed its borders and suspended flights in and out.
‘We have so far repatriated over 160,000 Germans,’ Maas said on Twitter. ‘We are going to continue,’ he added.
The government last week agreed to spend 50 million euros ($56 million) in a deal with commercial airlines to fly citizens home from affected regions.
EU foreign ministers have agreed to share flight capacity and data to help return as many people as possible to the bloc.
On Thursday EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc had managed to repatriated some 100,000 Europeans trapped overseas.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, closed its land borders last week and the European Union has also sealed its external borders to incoming travellers to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Germany has also imposed a ban on gatherings of more than two people, and shut schools, non-essential shops, bars and restaurants.
The Robert Koch Institute disease control authority on Friday reported over 42,000 confirmed coronavirus infections in Europe’s most populous nation, and 253 deaths.
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