India will deliver medical supplies to China to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. An official of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on February 20 that India will send a large military transport aircraft to evacuate nationals in Wuhan.
“The government of India has decided to send a consignment of medical supplies in a relief flight to Wuhan. This is just a small way to express our support to China as it continues its fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. On its return flight, the aircraft will bring in Indian nationals who could not board the first two flights ,” said Raveesh Kumar, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, announcing that a heavy lift C-17 aircraft will be sent for the mission to Wuhan.
Indians in Wuhan had earlier been told that the special flight would arrive on Thursday but a member of the Indian community informed The Hindu that the Embassy of India has now asked the community to wait for a fresh date.
Officials here said that India is waiting for China’s permission to send the aircraft.
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“We have asked Indian nationals to take precautions and follow the instruction of local authorities. Those interested in coming back have been asked to contact our Embassy. Subject to capacity limitations and other logistics, we will accommodate nationals of other countries as well,” said Mr. Kumar.
India evacuated some Maldivian nationals during a previous evacuation flight from Wuhan.
Air India and IndiGo on February 20 extended the suspension period of their flights to China into June due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In January, Air India cancelled its flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong until February 14, which has now been extended to June 30.
IndiGo had also announced that its flights to Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hong Kong were suspended until February 20. This has been extended until June 15, the airline spokesperson said. “We will review the decision depending on how the situation develops with respect to COVID-19,” added the spokesperson.
SpiceJet, which flies to Hong Kong, had cancelled its flights until Februay 29.
The decision by the two Indian carriers comes on a day that Egypt’s flag carrier, Egypt Air announced it would resume flights to China with effect from February 27.
However, Air India and IndiGo’s decision is in line with announcements made earlier this week by major global airlines to extend cancellations until April. American carriers such as United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines recently extended cancellations until the end of April. Many others, such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Qantas and KLM, have extended their cancellations until the end of March.