India started evacuation of its people from Wuhan (China) on Friday with a special Air India double decker Boeing 747 aircraft with 15 cabin crew and 5 cockpit crew taking off from Indira Gandhi International Airport (T3), Delhi, for Wuhan at 12.30 p.m. The evacuation started even as World Health Organisation (WHO) declared novel coronavirus a global health emergency.
The 423-seater flight is expected to return to Delhi from Wuhan (China) at 2 a.m. on Saturday and another special flight may depart from T3, Delhi on Saturday.
On Friday the death toll due to coronavirus rose to 213, with 1,982 new cases pushing up the coronavirus-stricken figure world-wide to 9,692.
Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani said, “During the flight no service will take place in the plane. Whatever food is there will be kept in seat pockets. There will be no interaction (between cabin crew and passengers).”
“Masks have been arranged for the crew and passengers. For our crew, we have also arranged a complete protective gear,” he added. Air India has done such evacuations earlier also from countries such as Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait and Nepal. The government has reached out to over 600 Indians living in China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, to ascertain their willingness to be brought back to India.
“We have made arrangements for the evacuation of 366 Indian citizens from Wuhan city in response to the emergency situation that has arisen due to outbreak of novel coronavirus in China. A team of doctors, public health specialists and para medical staff have been sent in the aircraft of AI. The incoming Indian passengers will be quarantined for 14 days at the two quarantine centres set up at Manesar (managed by Armed Forces Medical Services) and Chawla Camp (managed by ITBP). All proposed male passengers (approx. 280) are proposed to be sent to Manesar camp and families/females (approx. 90) can be housed in the ITBP camp,’’ said a senior Health Ministry official.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar thanked his Chinese counterpart soon after a special Air India flight landed in Wuhan to evacuate Indian nationals from the city which is under a lock-down imposed by the Chinese authorities.