China allows Indians to return, puts in place strict Covid-19 medical protocol
Chinese officials had made it clear this time that Indians will only be allowed on Thursday’s flight if each individual had done serum antibody detection and nucleic acid tests within five days (before boarding) and their individual health forms were endorsed by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi.Updated: Aug 05, 2020 19:18 IST
Nearly 150 Indians including diplomats’ families, officials of multilateral banks and private individuals are expected to return to China on a special Air India flight from New Delhi to Guangzhou on Thursday.
The final sanction from Beijing for their return was preceded by intensive rounds of discussions between Indian and Chinese officials in the backdrop Beijing not allowing Indians into China in the last special flight, which flew in on June 29.
Chinese officials had made it clear this time that Indians will only be allowed on Thursday’s flight if each individual had done serum antibody detection and nucleic acid tests within five days (before boarding) and their individual health forms were endorsed by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi.
A fresh nucleic acid test has to be done once the passengers disembark in Guangzhou – if positive, the passenger would have to return to New Delhi on the same flight.
Privately employed Indians planning to return to China had another mandatory requirement to be completed – an invitation letter signed by the local Chinese foreign affairs office where they work.
On its way back to New Delhi from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Thursday morning, the flight, part of the fifth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission to evacuate Indians stranded abroad because of the pandemic, is expected to fly back more than 200 Indians.
Most returning Indians are students studying medicine in China.
The Chinese government allowed Thursday’s VBM flight to bring Indians back to China more than a month after blocking Indian nationals from returning because two returning Indians were diagnosed with Covid-19 on a Shanghai-bound special flight on June 20.
Among those returning to China on Thursday are Indians working for the multilateral banks, the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The arriving Indians will be quarantined at hotels designated by local health authorities in Guangzhou for two weeks.
China has increasingly restricted foreign nationals from returning to the country unless their return is deemed important by the companies they work. The country has also made it mandatory for everyone to apply for a fresh visa.
China has also implemented a strict medical protocol to be followed by those hoping to return.
China suspended the entry of foreign nationals holding normal visas or residence permits from March 28 because of the spreading pandemic.
Entry of persons with diplomatic visas were not affected except for the fact they could only return on special or chartered flights.
In February, India had evacuated hundreds of its citizens from the worst-hit Hubei province in central China, and the first pandemic epicentre, Wuhan city, the provincial capital in two special flights.
China has seemingly controlled the Covid-19 outbreak, barring the 300 domestically transmitted cases in Beijing in June, more than 600 cases in Xinjiang in the northwest and 90 cases in the northeastern city of Dalian.
The health authorities are monitoring imported cases of Covid-19 – mostly among Chinese nationals returning from abroad.
The Chinese mainland reported five new imported Covid-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total number of imported cases to 2103, the National Health Commission said Wednesday.
No deaths had been reported from the imported cases.