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Air India flight with 324 Indians from coronavirus-hit Wuhan lands in Delhi

A special Air India flight carrying 324 Indians on board took off in the wee hours of Saturday (local time) from Wuhan has landed in Delhi.

The Boeing 747 Jumbo aircraft is bringing the 324 people, mostly students, who were stranded in the coronavirus-hit Chinese city, an Air India spokesperson said.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the number of Indians in the Hubei Province is around 1,200 people. The passengers will be kept in isolation for 14 days at the ITBP centre in Chhawla in the national capital upon their arrival.

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

Taking to Twitter, the Indian embassy said, “An Air India flight carrying 324 Indian nationals from the coronavirus hit Hubei Province of China took off from Wuhan in the early hours of Feb 1. The majority of the passengers were Indian students. We sincerely thank the Chinese government for facilitating this flight.”

The embassy said that the Indian government is planning for another flight to evacuate the remaining Indian nationals and also asked its citizens in Hubei to avail flight for India.

“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 embassy tweeted.

“We look forward to operating another flight to evacuate remaining Indian nationals, who have consented to leave Hubei Province for the time being,” it said in a subsequent tweet.

India has been waiting for China’s approval for repatriating Indians from Wuhan city in Hubei Province. The MEA has established contacts with over 600 Indians across the province and said it is individually ascertaining their willingness to travel back to India.

The first case of coronavirus was reported in December.

The flight includes all necessary resources like masks, medical equipment, packed food, prescribed medicines, along with a team of five doctors from the Health Ministry, and paramedical personnel from Air India, Air India Chairman, and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani told ANI on Friday.

Twenty crew members, including 15 cabin crew and five cockpit crews are on board. Lohani also said that the team of doctors and crew will be led by Air India’s Director of Operations Captain Amitabh Singh.