Oscar and Hulk jetted in just in time but fellow Brazilian Paulinho
reportedly heads a long list of foreign stars locked out of China as the
country attempts to stop imported coronavirus cases.
There are no suggestions that former Barcelona midfielder Paulinho
has the deadly disease, but China closed its borders at the weekend to
returning foreigners, even those with work and residence permits.
Former West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic is also among the
more than 30 overseas players and coaches still abroad, reports say,
dealing another blow to hopes that the Chinese Super League (CSL) season
could begin any time soon.
Arnautovic's Shanghai SIPG had more luck with Oscar, Hulk and new
signing Ricardo Lopes, hastily chartering a small aircraft to fly them
back from Brazil.
They landed in Shanghai on Friday night along with their families,
according to local media, having departed Sao Paulo and making a brief
stop in Malta to refuel.
The trio will now spend 14 days in isolation as required by the
Chinese government for all arriving foreigners, which should also
prevent any potential spread of coronavirus to the rest of the SIPG
But Brazilian international Paulinho, 31, and compatriot Anderson
Talisca failed to make it back to CSL champions Guangzhou Evergrande,
the Guangzhou Daily said.
Shanghai Shenhua's Colombian international Gio Moreno is another
stranded at home after many international air routes were suspended
because of the virus outbreak.
Marouane Fellaini, Shandong Luneng's former Manchester United
midfielder, is the only known coronavirus case in the CSL, having
recently returned to China.
It is unclear when China will lift its restrictions on the entry of
foreigners, having announced the "temporary" measure on Thursday. It
also slashed the number of international flights serving the country.
Fabio Cannavaro, the Italian World Cup-winning captain and Evergrande
coach, is in China and posted pictures of himself riding his bike at
the weekend having completed a period of quarantine.
The CSL season was supposed to begin on February 22 but was
indefinitely postponed after the coronavirus emerged in the central
Chinese city of Wuhan in December.
It has since developed into a pandemic, killing or infecting hundreds
of thousands of people across the world, although the number of locally
transmitted cases in China has supposedly dwindled.