India asks China to allow remaining Indians in locked-down Wuhan to leave
Deaths from the novel coronavirus rose to 41 on the Chinese mainland on Saturday with 1,287 confirmed cases, according to the National Health Commission.Updated: Jan 25, 2020 20:21 IST
India is learnt to have requested China to allow the remaining Indians in Wuhan to leave the city, the source of the novel Coronavirus and currently under an unprecedented civil lockdown to prevent the outbreak from spreading.
The Indian request comes in the backdrop of the US planning to evacuate its citizens in a chartered flight on Sunday.
The Wall Street Journal reported that US – which has a consulate in Wuhan – has hired a Boeing 767 jet, which carries around 230 people, for the job.
Washington was given approval for the operation from the Chinese foreign ministry, the report added.
Until Saturday evening, 41 had died from virus and the number of confirmed cases rose to 1355 on the mainland, according to the National Health Commission.
Wuhan authorities announced Saturday that Sunday onwards the movement of all vehicles in Wuhan except those deployed for special use such as free buses, official cars and supply transport vehicles will be indefinitely banned.
The tightening of restrictions in Wuhan – which was announced suddenly early on Thursday – has triggered panic and anxiety among the Indian community in the city, who feel they have been stranded in the middle of a serious medical emergency.
Around 250 Indians are still in Wuhan, the capital of the central Chinese Hubei province and city of around 11 million people.
Majority of them have already left the city, mostly flying back to India in the past two weeks for the Lunar New Year (LNY) holidays.
A handful of local Indian residents have helped the Indian embassy to compile a list of their compatriots in the city.
The remaining Indians mostly comprise students and around 50 working individuals.
Among the handful of Indian families based in Wuhan, majority have left, it was learnt.
One fear among community members is that essential supplies in the city will run out as the restrictions have been put in place indefinitely.
Rumours are spreading fast too – one is that the virus is airborne.
Many are confused whether to travel or not at this time since the virus can be transmitted from one human to another.
The two hotline numbers shared in a statement by the Indian embassy have been bombarded with worried phone calls and complaints from not only Indians in Wuhan but from other parts of China as well.
The Indian embassy has started a group for Indian residents remaining in Wuhan through which they are being regularly updated about the situation.
The extraction of the Indians from the locked down city will not be easy, and entirely depends on whether the Chinese authorities allow it.
As of now, outbound trains and flights besides road transport from Wuhan have been indefinitely stopped.
The worry for the local authorities – as well as India – is that more than 90 percent of the Coronavirus cases have been traced to a fish and seafood market in Wuhan.
If evacuated, will all the Indians from Wuhan be quarantined for two weeks? If so where?