Nearly 600 European citizens in China want to be repatriated because of the coronavirus epidemic, the EU said on Wednesday, as airlines began suspending flights to and from the Asian giant."There are a number of EU citizens in China who would like to leave the country, the current number is about 600, and they cannot do so at the moment," Janez Lenarcic, the EU commissioner for crisis management told reporters.Those affected come from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Britain, he said. On Tuesday France activated the European civil protection mechanism in order to coordinate the repatriation of European nationals from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic. Under the mechanism, the European Commission will contribute to the cost of the two flights planned for repatriations.The commission has told its staff to "suspend or postpone all non-urgent travel to China". Croatia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, is considering organising an extraordinary meeting of European health ministers in the coming days.