IAF’s relief flight for coronavirus-hit Wuhan to reach Wednesday, bring back remaining Indians
The Indians stranded in coronavirus-ground zero Wuhan are likely to be evacuated Wednesday night in an Indian air force (IAF) transport aircraft that’s coming in with medical supplies to help China fight the outbreak.
For the second time within a week, the Indian embassy in Beijing sent out a social media message to the Indians in locked down Wuhan -- where the covid-19 is said to have originated -- to be ready for departure tomorrow.
About 90 had registered for the evacuation flight.
Until Monday midnight, 2666 had died and nearly 77800 infected in China, the majority in Hubei and Wuhan.
The last time the same message was sent to the anxious Indians, the embassy had to rescind it, saying a technical issue had forced postponement.
That technical issue was Beijing’s reluctance in handing out a unique clearance number required for foreign aircraft to land in China.
Beijing is learnt to have given the required clearance for the transport aircraft to land in Wuhan on Monday after keeping New Delhi waiting for more than a week.
Usually, such clearances are given within 48 hours.
The embassy’s message on Tuesday was cautious – seemingly keeping a window partially open for another round of postponement.
“We are working on our plan to operating the relief flight tomorrow (February 26) evening/night,” it told the Indians.
“Embassy representatives who are already in touch with individually will directly advise you regarding the exact time of pick up. We are making arrangements for your pick up and onward movement to Wuhan airport by vehicles hired by the Embassy”.
“You are requested to prepare for departure tomorrow morning bearing in mind the points mentioned in the advisory already issued on this group.”
“Kindly note that these arrangements are still tentative, and subject to change. We appreciate your understanding,” the embassy message pointed it out to the Indian nationals.
India has already evacuated 674 Indians from the central Chinese of Hubei, and its capital, Wuhan, earlier this month in two special Air India flights; seven Maldivians had also taken the same flight out of Wuhan.
Those who will be evacuated Wednesday night will have to go through similar a 14-day quarantine period in two different facilities after reaching New Delhi.
All the Indians from the last two rounds of evacuation had tested negative for the coronavirus.
New Delhi and Beijing had a few terse exchanges in the run-up to the third round of evacuation of Indians from Wuhan with the former saying China had deliberately delayed it.
It is not easy to put a finger on the reason behind the delay – Beijing has denied any delay on its part – but the number of extra days it took for the clearance to be given could have been because of India’s ban on the export of anti-epidemic protective clothing when China, facing a massive shortage in Hubei, needed it.