China on Tuesday said Indian and Chinese officials are in communication over India's announcement to operate more Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights to the country. The Indian Embassy here on Monday announced that Air India is planning to operate four flights to Delhi on November 13, November 20, November 27 and December 4, 2020, respectively, the Indian Embassy here announced.
Indian officials said India is also gearing up to operate a VBM flight from Delhi to the central Chinese city of Wuhan on November 6.
Asked whether China will delay the approvals after reports that 19 Indian passengers tested positive for COVID-19 in the VBM flight from Delhi to Wuhan on October 30, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here that according to a report by Hubei Health Commission four confirmed cases of coronavirus and 19 asymptomatic cases were reported following tests of the passengers in that flight.
The October 30 flight brought in 277 Indians from Delhi and evacuated 157 on its return. "The two sides are engaging in communication regarding follow-up arrangement for temporary flights," he said. Air India said that all the passengers to Wuhan had boarded the flight from Delhi with COVID negative reports from certified labs.
"Air India strictly adheres to all the safety protocol laid down by the regulatory bodies and conforms to requirements at destination airports," it said in a statement on Monday. There is no question of passengers boarding any of our flight without valid COVID negative reports, it said.
As per the protocols circulated by Chinese officials, all those tested positive will be referred to hospitals and will be discharged only after they test negative. The protocols also stipulate 14-day mandatory quarantine in the designated hotels for all those arriving in China.
There is a big rush for VBM flights from India to China as Beijing has recently lifted the temporary ban on holders of resident permit visas. About 1,500 to 2,000 Indians who are either working in China or connected to businesses want to return by VBM flights as regular flight services remained suspended due to COVID-19.