HONG KONG — The government of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region started on Wednesday the second round of operation to bring back over 500 Hong Kong residents stranded in Central China’s Hubei province.

Two chartered flights will be arranged on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, and are expected to bring back more than 500 Hong Kong residents, mainly from three cities that are within two to three hours’ drive from Hubei’s capital city Wuhan, said the HKSAR government’s Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip, who will lead the operation.

Unlike the first operation early this month which took home Hong Kong residents mainly from Wuhan, the second operation will focus on the three cities of Xianning, Xiaogan and Huangshi, as well as some Hong Kong residents with urgent needs in other cities of the province, Nip said on Wednesday morning as the first chartered flights were about to take off from the Hong Kong International Airport.

The epidemic situation in the cities concerned in the second operation has eased currently, said Nip, adding the health condition of the passengers will be repeatedly checked before boarding, and they will undergo 14-day home quarantine after their arrival in Hong Kong.

Out of the passengers, about a quarter are aged under 16 who will be accompanied by their relatives, while the rest include students to take the upcoming Diploma of Secondary Education examination, pregnant women, and others with urgent or medical needs.

Nip said it will be more challenging this time to bring all the passengers to the airport in Wuhan safely and in time as they are scattered in different places.

After four chartered flights commissioned by the HKSAR government brought home 469 Hong Kong residents from Hubei in early March, there are still more than 3,400 Hong Kong residents staying in 37 different cities in the virus-hit province, according to figures provided by Nip at a media briefing last week.