Special Air India flight with Indians on board to take off from Wuhan soon
The special Air India aircraft is set to take off from the Cornonavirus-hit Wuhan city in central China with more than 370 Indians early on Saturday.
The Indians were taken to the designated airport from different parts of locked down Wuhan in buses on Friday evening and were screened for symptoms of the disease before being allowed to board.
A second flight is likely to be dispatched later to evacuate the remaining Indians in the Hubei province.
As many as 213 have died and more than 9600 have been infected in the Coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan and then spread across China and in several other countries including India.
A city of around 11 million people, Wuhan has been under an unprecedented lockdown for more than a week to contain the spread of the virus.
All non-essential entry and exit into the city is currently banned and private vehicles are not allowed to ply within the city.
Earlier this week, the US and Japan were the first countries to evacuate their citizens from the city; UK flew out around 200 nationals earlier on Friday.
The Indians being evacuated from Wuhan will have to be mandatorily quarantined for 14 days after they return.
The quarantine is to ensure that in case anyone among them is a carrier, she or he is not able to infect another person.
Experts say person can be a carrier even without showing symptoms of the disease and can possibly infect another within a 14-day incubation period.
The Indian embassy got the clearance from the Chinese government’s foreign ministry to fly out its citizens after days of negotiations.
The Chinese were not in favour of evacuating foreign nationals possibly because the government doesn’t want the disease to spread.
The foreign ministry told HT in a statement earlier this week China would make appropriate arrangements if any country “insists” on evacuating its nationals.
“China attaches great importance to protecting the lives and health of citizens of all countries in Wuhan, Hubei province, and will continue to take active and effective measures to address their legitimate concerns and demands in a timely manner,” the ministry said.
“If a country insists on evacuating its citizens in Wuhan, China will make appropriate arrangements and provide necessary assistance and convenience in accordance with international practice and China’s relevant provisions on epidemic prevention,” the ministry added.