India to airlift citizens from virus-hit Wuhan

India has started its mission to rescue citizens from the Coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China. The first flight, AI 1348 of Air India took off from Mumbai with a small halt in New Delhi. 

The flight is expected to ‘airlift’ about 315 Indians from Wuhan and neighbouring areas.

A second aircraft will be dispatched thereafter to bring back Indians from other parts of Hubei province. 

The Indian embassy had circulated a message among Indians in Hubei via the messaging app WeChat on Thursday evening about the evacuation, reports said. 

According to an official statement, Five doctors from the Union health ministry and one paramedical staff will be on board on the flight. 

The flight will be at Wuhan airport for two to three hours.

The Boeing 747 aircraft, is being flown by Captain Kamal Mohan and Captain S Reza with 15 crew members on board.

The Indian mission starts hours after the WHO declared the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak originated in China and has spread to at least 17 countries as an international public health emergency (PHEIC).

“We are preparing for air evacuation from Wuhan tomorrow in the evening. This flight will carry those Indian nationals who are in and around Wuhan and have conveyed consent for their evacuation,” said an official intimation. 

“There will be another flight subsequently which will carry those who are from other parts of Hubei province,” it added.

Indian officials had asked Indians to be ready for a 14-day quarantine on return to India.

Incidentally, India confirmed its first positive case of Coronavirus infection in Kerala on January 30, 2020.