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IAF Aircraft to Evacuate Indians from Coronavirus Epicentre Wuhan on Thursday, Carry Medical Supplies

A doctor disinfects the entrance of a community health service centre in Qingshan district of Wuhan. (Reuters)

A doctor disinfects the entrance of a community health service centre in Qingshan district of Wuhan. (Reuters)

So far, 647 Indians and seven Maldivians have been brought back from Wuhan in two 747 Boeing Air India aircraft after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

New Delhi: The government will send a C-17 military aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to Wuhan on February 20 to evacuate more Indians from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city and also provide medical supplies to the country, military sources said on Tuesday.

The C-17 Globemaster, the biggest military IAF aircraft, will carry a large consignment of medical supplies to China and bring back more Indians from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic. India last week announced it will send medicines as well as other medical supplies to China.

A total of 647 Indians and seven Maldivians were brought back from Wuhan on February 1-2 in two 747 Boeing Air India aircraft after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. They were kept at two quarantine facilities in and around Delhi.

All 248 people at an Army camp in Manesar and another batch of 100 at an Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) facility, quarantined at these two places, were discharged on Tuesday. The remaining people housed at the ITBP camp will be released by Wednesday morning, said officials.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong expressed appreciation to Delhi for expressing its willingness to help China deal with the epidemic. He said there is no case of infection among the remaining Indians in Hubei province, the epicentre of the pandemic, and that authorities are taking "good care" of them.

China's National Health Commission on Tuesday said the death toll due to the outbreak climbed to 1,868 on Monday while the total number of confirmed cases jumped to 72,436.

Sun said that China has put in place multi-level control and prevention mechanisms to win the battle against coronavirus. The envoy said Beijing has allocated RMB 80 billion to contain the disease and the government has sufficient resources and policy tools to cope with economic fluctuations following the epidemic.

"China has full confidence that it will win the battle against coronavirus epidemic," he said.

Centre to soon announce measures

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi said the government will soon announce measures to deal with the impact of the outbreak on the domestic industry and exports. These steps will be announced in consultation with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), she said after holding a review meeting with representatives of the industry.

A number of industry representatives, including those from pharmaceuticals, textiles, chemicals electronics and IT hardware, solar, auto, surgical equipment, paint, fertilizer, telecom glass, mobile manufacturing, edible oil, shipping and tourism, attended the meeting. Sitharaman said some of them have issues related to export, and some related to raw material import.

The government was represented by secretary-level officials from commerce, and heavy industry departments while representatives of pharma, shipping, MSME and telecom were also present.

Sitharaman said she would hold a meeting with the secretaries of different ministries on Wednesday and then announce steps in consultation with the PMO to deal with the situation at the earliest.

"All concerned departments would be contacted by the finance ministry's different secretaries and the Principal Economic Adviser. The issues raised will be informed to them. They will apply the mind and come back tomorrow afternoon so that we talk among ourselves about the possible solutions," she said.

(With inputs from PTI)