Special jet to bring back Indians on Coronavirus ship
India is sending a special flight to Japan to evacuate its citizens who were on a cruise ship from which 700 passengers are now infected with the deadly new coronavirus, officials in Tokyo said on Tuesday as the disease continued to spread its footprints into more countries across the globe.
At least 14 Indians have also tested positive for the disease caused by the virus – Covid-19 – from the among 138 that were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The ship had 3,711 passengers in all, and 700 are now infected and taken to shoreside medical facilities in Yokohama near Tokyo.
“A chartered flight is being arranged to repatriate Indian nationals on board Diamond Princess, provided they have (a)consented, (b) not tested positive for COVID19, (c) cleared by the medical team,” the Indian embassy in Tokyo tweeted on Tuesday.
Passengers showing no signs of the potentially deadly disease started disembarking from the ship after the quarantine period ended last week. Over 1,000 passengers and crew still remain on board the ship.
The ship was quarantined in the first week of February after a passenger who disembarked last month in Hong Kong was found to be a carrier of the disease.
On Tuesday, the total number of infected since the virus – technically called the Sars-Cov-2 – began spreading in late December crossed the 80,000 mark. Switzerland, Croatia and Austria reported their first infections, while the outbreak spread further in the middle east.
The total number of people killed by the disease has now reached 2,705 – the recent deaths included a fourth fatality from the Diamond Princess.
The US’ Centre for Disease Control (CDC) issued a statement asking Americans to brace for the spread of the virus, calling the widening of the outbreak a “question of when, not if”
Indian officials also confirmed on Tuesday that a separate flight will be reaching Wuhan, the central Chinese city which is the epicenter of the outbreak, on Wednesday. The special plane will land with medical supplies and evacuate about 90-00 Indians still stuck in the city.
India had announced plans to send Indian Air Force’s largest plane, the C-17 Globemaster, with medical supplies to China several days ago but, they said, China did not grant requisite clearances, a charge Beijing denies.
(With inputs from Agencies)