Coronavirus: 324 Indians evacuated from Wuhan in Air India plane, another flight to leave Delhi

The Safdarjung Hospital has kept 50 beds for critical patients, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Special Secretary (Health), Sanjeeva Kumar said.

Published: 01st February 2020 08:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st February 2020 11:35 AM   |  A+A-

Passengers in the Air India flight from Wuhan

Passengers in the Air India flight from Wuhan. (Photo| ANI)


NEW DELHI: A special Air India plane landed here on Saturday morning after evacuating 324 Indian nationals from the novel coronavirus-hit Wuhan and another flight of the airline would leave the national capital for the Chinese city in the afternoon, officials said.

The first plane -- Air India's jumbo B747 aircraft carrying 211 students, 110 working professionals and three minors-- reached Delhi around 7.30 am, they said.

There were five doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital and one paramedical staff on board, said an Air India spokesperson.

The Indian Army has set up a quarantine facility in Manesar near Delhi to keep those evacuated from China's Hubei province.

Officials said they would be monitored for any signs of infection for a duration of two weeks by a qualified team of doctors and staff members.

"With 324 passengers, a special flight has taken off for India from Wuhan. It may reach Delhi at 7. 30am," said the Air India spokesperson at 1.19 am on Saturday.

The flight had departed from Delhi airport at 1.17 pm on Friday to evacuate Indian nationals from China, where more than 250 people - none of them Indian - have died due to novel coronavirus.

Hours after the arrival of the first flight from the Chinese city in Delhi, the Air India spokesperson said, "Another flight will depart to Wuhan from Delhi at 12.50 pm today with a different set of crew, same doctors' team with other aircraft. The rescue team is again headed by Capt Amitabh Singh, Director Operation, Air India."

Wuhan, Hubei's capital, is the epicentre of novel coronavirus outbreak.

"We urge all Indian citizens from Hubei who intend to avail this flight for India and not yet contacted the Embassy, to urgently call the hotlines (+8618610952903 and +8618612083629) or dedicated email ID helpdesk. beijing@mea. gov. in before 0800 hours on February 1, 2020," the Indian Embassy in China said in the tweet.

The virus outbreak has killed 259 people in China with total confirmed cases surging to 11,791 amid stepped-up efforts by a number of countries to evacuate their nationals from Hubei province, officials said on Saturday.

ALSO READ: China coronavirus death toll rises to 259, infections surge

About Friday's flight, the spokesperson had said earlier during the day, "A team of five doctors from RML hospital, one paramedical staff from Air India, with prescribed medicines from doctors, masks, overcoats, packed food are in the aircraft. A team of engineers, security personnel are also there in this special aircraft. The whole rescue mission is being led by Captain Amitabh Singh."

The spokesperson had added that there were five cockpit crew members and 15 cabin crew members on Friday's flight.

Before departure at Delhi airport, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani had said, "No service will take place in the plane. Whatever food is there will be kept in seat pockets. As there will be no service, there will be no interaction (between cabin crew and passengers)."

"Masks have been arranged for the crew and passengers. For our crew, we have also arranged a complete protective gear," he had added.

"Total five doctors from the Health Ministry are also going. The plane will be there (at Wuhan airport) for 2-3 hours," Lohani had said.

Officials said the Indian Army has set up a quarantine facility in Manesar near Delhi to keep those evacuated from China's Hubei province.

They would be monitored for any signs of infection for a duration of two weeks by a qualified team of doctors and staff members.

So far about 124 positive cases have been reported in a host of countries, including India where the first case was confirmed in Kerala.

Hubei province and Wuhan remained the ground zero of the virus with 45 deaths and 1,347 confirmed cases, according to the Chinese commission's report.

Air India has done such evacuations earlier also from countries such as Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait and Nepal.


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