COVID-19: IAF aircraft lands in Wuhan with medical supplies

Centre issues travel advisory for South Korea, Italy, Iran

Published - February 27, 2020 01:17 am IST - NEW DELHI

India on Wednesday sent a heavy lift military transport aircraft to the COVID-19-hit Wuhan in China. The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) C-17 Globemaster III aircraft carried 15 tonnes of medical supplies and will bring back around 120 citizens and five infants while flying back on Thursday.

Apart from the Indian nationals, the flight is also expected to bring back citizens of neighbouring countries. An Indian based in Wuhan said the Indian Embassy in Beijing had asked the citizens to remain ready for evacuation and the official process was underway till late Wednesday evening.

India had reached out to China on February 13 seeking permission for sending the aircraft with medical supplies. But it subsequently accused China of deliberately delaying the process , causing considerable friction between the two sides. However, China had rejected India’s charge and said the delay arose due to complications in the process on ground.

A Chinese source familiar with the exchanges, said that there was no "deliberate delay" for flight permission to Wuhan. "The Chinese side takes it seriously regarding the health and safety of the foreign nationals like its own citizens including Indian students in China," said a Chinese source.

This is the third aircraft that India has sent for evacuation of citizens from the COVID-19-hit region.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday issued an additional travel advisory stating that Indians should refrain from non-essential travel to Republic of Korea (South Korea), Iran and Italy. “People coming from Republic of Korea, Iran and Italy or having such travel history since 10th February 2020 may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival to India,” noted the release.

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