Coronavirus Outbreak: India Prepares to Airlift First Batch of Citizens from Wuhan Today
Guardians and students wear masks. (Reuters)
Beijing/New Delhi: India is preparing to evacuate its citizens on Friday from China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus that has killed 170 people, infected 7,711 others and spread to at least 17 countries.
India earlier requested China for permission to operate two flights to bring back its nationals from worst-affected central Hubei province. Wuhan is the provincial capital of Hubei.
In a big relief for Indians - mostly students and professionals - stranded in Wuhan, the Indian Embassy in a note circulated through social media on Thursday said preparations are on to evacuate them from the virus-hit region.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs said it has reached out to over 600 Indians living in Hubei to ascertain their willingness to be brought back.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said there is no report of any Indian being affected by the coronavirus in either Hubei or in any other country. He said India has not put any restriction on the movement of people from China to India in view of the outbreak.
The note circulated by the embassy in Beijing said, "We are preparing for air evacuation from Wuhan tomorrow in the evening. This flight will carry those Indian nationals who are in and around Wuhan and have conveyed consent for their evacuation. There will be another flight subsequently, which will carry those who are from other parts of Hubei province."
The Indian government and the Indian Embassy here have been collecting requisite details of the stranded Indians and held talks with the Chinese Foreign Ministry to work out the modalities for their evacuation. The exact number of Indians stranded in Hubei has not yet been revealed.
"Please note that these details are tentative and are being shared with you so that you are adequately prepared," the note said.
"We would request your understanding and cooperation. Our intention is to ensure that all those who have expressed consent to avail this facility are safely returned to India. We will shortly update you and send further instructions,” it said.
China assures India of cooperation
Chinese Embassy Spokesperson Ji Rong said the mission has maintained close communication with the Indian government on the issue by briefing it regularly on the Novel Coronavirus' development and China's efforts in preventing and controlling it.
"We are willing to continue to maintain close communication with the Indian side, provide necessary assistance and convenience to ensure the health and safety of Indian citizens in China, and address their legitimate concerns timely," he said.
"We also hope Indian side could continue to render understanding and support to China's efforts in epidemic prevention and control," Ji said.
According to reports, an Air India 747 Boeing has been kept ready to fly them back to India.
The embassy has already informed the stranded Indians that upon their arrival in India they need to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a designated city, the name of it which has not yet been revealed.
The embassy has opened three hotlines to help the Indians in Wuhan to cope up with the crisis.