Govt begins process to evacuate Indians in Coronavirus-hit Chinese city
India on Tuesday said it was preparing to evacuate its citizens from the central Chinese province of Hubei, the epicentre of the novel Coronavirus outbreak that has killed 106 people so far.
More than 200 Indians remain in Hubei, mostly in the capital city Wuhan. A large number of Indian students were based in Wuhan, though many of them had recently left the city for the Chinese New Year holidays.
In a message circulated among Indian nationals in Hubei, the Indian embassy said the process of evacuation had begun and the mission was in touch with the Chinese government to work out logistics for moving them out of the province. It said the evacuated people would be quarantined for a fortnight on return to India.
“Government of India has begun the process to prepare for evacuation of Indian nationals affected by the situation arising out of nCorona-2019 virus (Coronavirus) outbreak in Hubei Province, China. Embassy of India, Beijing is in touch with the Chinese government authorities to work out date and logistics of the evacuation,” said the message which was circulated among Indians via WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app.
“Please be informed that those availing of this option will have to undergo a mandatory 14-days quarantine on arrival in India,” it said.
The message said details regarding the date and logistics of the evacuation would be “communicated in due course”. The Indian nationals were told “to be patient and wait for further updates and instructions”.
In a similar message on Twitter, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We have begun the process to prepare for evacuation of Indian nationals affected by the situation arising out of nCorona-2019 virus outbreak in Hubei Province, China.
“Our @EOIBeijing is working out the logistics & is in touch with the Chinese govt. authorities & our nationals on this matter. We will continue to share updates.”
People familiar with developments in New Delhi said the Indian embassy in Beijing was ascertaining the exact number of Indians to be evacuated. They also ruled out a blanket evacuation of all Indians from across China.
Hubei and its capital city Wuhan are under an unprecedented lockdown to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus that has also sickened more than 4,500 people in China. Tens of millions in Hubei are either in lockdown or facing public transport restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.