NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 2: The second Air India flight Boeing 747 brought back 323 stranded Indian nationals and 7 Maldivian nationals from the deadly Coronavirus (CoV)-hit Wuhan city in China that has killed more than 300 people and infected 14,380 others. In India, 2 positive cases of the virus have been confirmed from Kerala.
The total number of people evacuated so far is 654 with the special flight departing at 3:10 a.m. (IST) from Wuhan today and landing at New Delhi airport around 9:45 a.m.
Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahi tweeted, “Deep gratitude to PM Narendra Modi and EM Dr S Jaishankar. Special thanks to Ambassadors Vikram Misri and Sunjay Sudhir and their teams.”
Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri too took to Twitter and said, “The 2nd Air India flight from Wuhan has just taken off for Delhi with 323 Indian citizens on board. 7 Maldives citizens are also being evacuated.”
While thanking the Chinese officials he said, “Grateful once again to MFA China and local authorities all across Hubei for their assistance.”
“Want to thank my team at EOI Beijing which mounted a non-stop almost 96-hour long operation to coordinate a complex airlift under challenging circumstances for us, the passengers and local authorities in Hubei and Wuhan,” he said in another tweet.
“A special word of appreciation for 2 of our officers who are on board the plane ~ Deepak Padmakumar and M Balakrishnan ~ they showed exemplary fortitude and a real spirit of public service by travelling to ground zero in #Wuhan to coordinate airport arrangements. Kudos to both,” Misri added.
Four Indians could not board the second flight after they reported high temperatures, Misri told news agency PTI.
Air India’s jumbo flight made 2 flights to Wuhan city; first flight brought back 324 people. The plane reached Delhi around 7.30 a.m. on February 1 with the passengers and 5 doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital and 1 paramedical staff on board. The passengers including 3 minors and 211 students underwent thorough medical examination, because of risk of infected people exposing the fellow passengers and flight staff to the CoV.
Six Indians could not board the first flight as they were stopped by the Chinese immigration officials after they reported high temperature. They may be quarantined to undergo tests to determine whether they have symptoms of the coronavirus, officials said.
Twenty-five others stayed back on their accord, Misri said, adding that there may still be about 100 Indians who remained in Hubei province for which Wuhan is the provincial capital.
Ahead of the evacuation operation, the Indian Embassy had informed the Indians that they have to undergo health tests before the flight and undergo 14-day quarantine after reaching India in special camps.
The Indians who were evacuated from Wuhan have been quarantined in a specially prepared facility in Manesar near Delhi, the Indian Army, which has mounted a full-fledged operation for this purpose, said.