Novel coronavirus: An Air India passenger aircraft will head to Wuhan today to bring back stranded Indians from the city. The Boeing 747 is scheduled to pick up 325 Indians from Wuhan that is the epicentre of the outbreak. The plane will start from Mumbai and make a brief halt in Delhi.
The Air India flight will have at least two doctors and the crew have been instructed to allow only non-infected people into the aircraft. The crew will not deboard from the plane once they reach Wuhan and will maintain minimal contact with the passengers to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus. Food packets and water will be kept on each seat, as mentioned in a report in NDTV.
The Delhi stopover will ensure that the plane is equipped with special medical kits.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had earlier said that out of 1,200 Indian people in Wuhan, the government has established contact with 600 of them. "We are individually ascertaining their willingness to travel back to India. Our mission is working round the clock to work out the necessary logistics. We are also making arrangements for people to travel to the airport," he said.
Separately, the first positive case has been reported in the country in Kerala's Thrissur district. The affected is a student of Wuhan University and had travelled to India. A Union Health Ministry statement said that the student is in isolation at the hospital and is stable but being closely monitored.
The government has also announced that people who have come from China after January 15 will be tested for the coronavirus. The government has also advised that trips to China should be avoided.
The World Health Organisation declared a global emergency on Thursday. So far, more than 7,800 cases of coronavirus have been detected, most of which have been in China. "The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems," he said.