Coronavirus: 324 Indians evacuated from Wuhan, admitted to ITBP, army facilities

NEW DELHI: Up to 324 Indians, evacuated from the city of China, arrived on Saturday aboard the jumbo B747 aircraft of Air India and were admitted to the two quarantine facilities established by the Army and the ITBP, although none of them tested positive for the novel, officials said.

The plane, which was carrying 211 students, 110 working professionals and three minors, arrived in Delhi around 7.30 in the morning, they said, adding that none of them have tested positive for the coronavirus yet.

Another flight by the airline, which departed to the Chinese city from here around 1.37 pm to bring back Indian citizens, arrived in Wuhan around 5.40 pm on Saturday, authorities said.

Five doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML), who were on board the first flight, are also on the second flight, an Air India spokesman said.

Of the total 324 that landed here this morning, 88 women, 10 men and six children were taken to the ITBP's special quarantine facilities in the Chhawla area in southwest Delhi, said ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey.

The Army also established a quarantine facility in Manesar, near Delhi, to keep about 300 Indians evacuated from the Chinese province of Hubei in view of the outbreak of coronavirus infection.

On the other hand, the ITBP border surveillance force has established a 600-bed facility in the Chhawla area in southwest Delhi to quarantine and provide basic medical care to those suspected of being affected by the virus.

Officials said a qualified team of doctors and staff members will supervise the Indians evacuated from China to detect any signs of infection for a period of two weeks.

The first flight departed from Delhi airport at 1.17 pm on Friday to evacuate Indian citizens from China, where more than 250 people, none of them Indian, died due to the deadly coronavirus infection.

Of the 324 people who have been evacuated through the first Air India flight, 56, 53 and 42 are from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, respectively.

Two people more suspected of being affected by the coronavirus have entered the isolation room of the RML Hospital here, which brings the total number of patients in the facility to eight, hospital officials said.

On Friday night, two men, aged 23 and 46, complained of respiratory problems and fever at the government-appointed hospital to treat these cases, they said.

The Ministry of Health of the Union said on Saturday that passengers arriving from Thailand and Singapore will be examined at airports, in addition to those coming from China and Hong Kong for possible exposure to the deadly and novel coronavirus.

In Maharashtra, the 15 people in quarantine in hospitals for possible exposure to the new coronavirus have been negative, according to an official statement. No confirmed cases of coronavirus infection have been found in the state so far.

In Gujarat, 64 people who recently returned to the state from China are under observation in their homes, but so far no suspected cases of coronavirus infection have been found, a senior health department official said.

Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja said three people have been arrested in the state for spreading false information on social networks about the new coronavirus.

Meanwhile, IndiGo announced that it will suspend flights on the Kolkata-Guangzhou route from February 6 to 25 due to the new deadly coronavirus outbreak in China.

Air India and Indigo operate flights on five routes, of these, flights on three routes, two from Indigo and one from Air India, have been suspended.

Among all Indian airlines, only Air India and Indigo operate flights between India and China.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, is the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The virus has killed 259 people in China, with a total of confirmed cases that rose to 11,791 amid intensified efforts by several countries to evacuate their citizens from Hubei province, officials said Saturday.