Coronavirus evacuation: About 100 Indians to be brought back from Wuhan by military aircraft

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Published: February 20, 2020 9:29:20 PM

India is set to send a C-17 military transport aircraft to Wuhan to evacuate more Indians and deliver a consignment of medical supplies. India is awaiting clearance from the Chinese side.

MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the advisories regarding travel to and from China remain in place, but there was no ban on travel. (Reuters)

The aircraft India is sending to Wuhan with medical supplies will evacuate about 100 Indians from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the advisories regarding travel to and from China remain in place, but there was no ban on travel. India is set to send a C-17 military transport aircraft to Wuhan to evacuate more Indians and deliver a consignment of medical supplies. India is awaiting clearance from the Chinese side.

“Those interested to come back have been asked to contact the embassy… subject to capacity limitations and other logistics, we will accommodate nationals of other countries as well,” Kumar said at a media briefing here. He said about 100 Indians will be brought back on the aircraft and the exercise of compiling the names is still on. “We are monitoring the welfare of Indian nationals (in China) on a regular basis. We have advised the people in Wuhan and the Hubei province to take precautions and follow instructions of local authorities,” Kumar said.

“You are aware that the government of India has decided to send an aircraft, a consignment of medical supplies on a relief flight to Wuhan and this is just a token way to express support to China as it continues its fight against the epidemic,” he said. India’s national carrier Air India earlier this month evacuated over 640 Indians from Wuhan in two separate flights.

On the return flight, the aircraft will bring in Indian nationals who could not board the first two flights, Kumar said. Asked about details of the medical supplies to China, Kumar said India has always been the first responder for its neighbours and friends in times of crisis and it was in that spirit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered assistance to China in a letter he wrote to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We are ready to dispatch the relief package as our token of support to China as they fight this outbreak. We are actually awaiting to get clearance to come from the government of China. So the moment the clearance comes, the relief flight will take off,” he said.

The death toll in the coronavirus epidemic in China has climbed to 2,118 with the death of 114 more people, while the overall confirmed cases increased to 74,576. On the quarantined cruise ship off Japan, aboard which eight Indians tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Kumar said the Indian side is in touch with the Japanese authorities to work out the next steps. “There are several possibilities that are being looked into,” Kumar said, without elaborating. “Our embassy has been putting out regular updates. They are closely monitoring the situation. The quarantine ended yesterday. The disembarkation started and will continue for a few days. The disembarkation starts with the passengers first and the crew will be the last to disembark,” he said.

There will be a health protocol in place both at the time of embarkation after the release of the passengers and on arrival of Indian nationals in the country, he said. A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess that was quarantined off the coast of Japan. Kumar said the eight Indians affected by the virus were being treated at a local hospital and “the situation is improving”.

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