We were on a mission, says rescue team that went to Wuhan

In my mind we were soldiers working for our country, says team leader

“This was a mission not a trip,” said Pulin Gupta, professor of Internal Medicine at RML Hospital, who headed the first medical team that evacuated 324 Indians from Wuhan, China — epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak that has now spread to over 25 countries.

“It was all worth it when we saw the reaction of the Indians we were rescuing. There was cheer and even applause as the flight took to the air... there were many moist eyes,” he added.

The real work of the medical team (three doctors and two nursing staff) started just before the 324 Indians came on-board. “We had stocked up on medicines, personal safety equipment, emergency medicines and had sessions with staff on what the protocol would be. The Air India staff was also informed about the virus and how best to protect themselves. When our citizens boarded the plane, we had to evaluate their medical condition, ensure their safe trip back home and be sure to minimise the spread of any infection. That was a challenge,’’ said Dr. Gupta.


He added that besides logistics, the anxiety of going into an area which was dealing with a relatively little know virus was not easy.

“Though we knew that fatality was relatively low compared to similar strains, we were still anxious. However, when my mother told me that the country needs me now, all last-minute anxieties vanished and I was able to convey that confidence to my team also. In my mind we were soldiers working for our country. That in a nut-shell was our frame of mind,” said Dr. Gupta.

After returning to India, the team was kept in isolation for 14-days.

“But this is all part of our duty to help our brothers and sisters in distress. This was no time to think about risks. We were aware that prevention is the best cure. We also prepared the blueprint for the second Indian team which went into Wuhan for the next batch of Indians,’’ said Dr. Gupta.

On Monday, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan presented the team from RML Hospital and Safdurjung Hospital, an appreciation letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their “grit, determination and compassion”, and successfully evacuating a total of 645 India citizens and seven Maldivan citizens from Wuhan.

The appreciation letter from the PM read: “In such a scenario, the evacuation of Indian citizens in distress has not only given relief to those rescued but has also reassured the Indian diaspora settled across the globe that in time of crisis, the entire nation stands firmly united. Your indefatigable effort inspires every citizen to serve the nation with dedication and commitment”.

As per the Health Ministry, 3,21,375 passengers from 2,996 flights and 6,387 passengers from 125 ships have been screened till date.

A total of 2,571 samples across 15 laboratories have been tested and only three samples have come back positive for COVID-19.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 10:50:35 PM |

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