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Coronavirus: Air India’s special flight to depart from Delhi for Wuhan on Friday for evacuation of Indians

NEW DELHI: Amid the scare caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, Air India will on Friday depart from Delhi to Wuhan for the evacuation of Indians trapped in the region.

“A special flight will depart today from Delhi for Wuhan (China) for the evacuation of Indians,” Air India spokesperson said on Friday.

The government on Thursday reached out to over 600 Indians living in China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, to ascertain their willingness to be brought back to India.

India has already approached Chinese authorities to allow it to send two flights to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, to bring back Indian nationals, and the evacuation process may start from Friday.

“We have established contact with over 600 Indians across the province and are individually ascertaining their willingness to be repatriated. Our Mission in Beijing is working round-the-clock on the ground to work out the necessary logistics,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.

Kumar said there is no report of any Indian being affected by the coronavirus in either Hubei province or in any other country.

The MEA spokesperson also said that India has not put any restriction on the movement of people from China to India in view of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

He said the government has been conducting a regular review of the situation arising out of the outbreak of coronavirus in China.

The Indian embassy in Beijing said India was preparing to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan on Friday.

According to the Chinese authorities, the nationwide death toll from novel coronavirus has jumped to 170.

“We have made a formal request to the government of China for bringing back Indian nationals from the Hubei province in two flights. We are awaiting for the necessary approval from the Chinese side. We hope this will be granted soon,” Kumar said.

Kumar said arrangements are being put in place for people to travel to the airport in Wuhan.

“We remain committed to the safety and well-being of our nationals abroad. We appreciate the support extended by the government of China and other ministries in the government of India in putting this process together,” Kumar said.

He said the number of Indians in Hubei province used to be around 1,200 but it is difficult for the government to find out the exact number now.

The first case of coronavirus was reported in Wuhan city of China in December and since then the virus has spread in most parts of the world.

In China, the death toll from the deadly mounted to 213 with 9,356 people tested positive with the disease.

China has imposed quarantine and travel restrictions, affecting the movement of 56 million people in more than a dozen cities, amid fears that the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year.