India has begun the process to airlift its citizens from Wuhan, the hub of the deadly coronavirus in China, where a lockdown has been put into place to prevent the virus from spreading further.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has already approved an Air India flight to Wuhan for this purpose, with a 423-seater Boeing 747 ‘jumbo jet’ had been kept on standby in Mumbai. Up to 250 Indians are to be evacuated, according to official sources speaking to PTI.
The ministry of external affairs have formally requested China to facilitate the evacuation. According to some news reports, China has approved the request. However, MEA sources told THE WEEK that there have been no further developments. "There have been no further developments. We are in touch with the Chinese."
By evening, the Indian embassy in Beijing tweeted a press release confirming that the M/O for civil aviation "will make the necessary arrangements for evacuation after approval of the Chinese authorities is received."
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had tweeted on the development earlier in the day.
"We have begun the process to prepare for evacuation of Indian nationals affected by the situation arising out of nCorona-2019 virus outbreak in Hubei Province, China. (1/2)"
"Our @EOIBeijing is working out the logistics & is in touch with the Chinese govt. authorities & our nationals on this matter. We will continue to share updates. (2/2)
The Chinese ambassador to India, however, did not seem to recommend the evacuation of the region of foreign nationals. Ambassador Sun Weidong tweeted, "The WHO does not recommend the evacuation of nationals, and called on the international community to remain calm and not overreact. The WHO is confident in China's epidemic prevention and control ability."
The Indian embassy in Beijing has approved three helplines for relatives of Indians stranded in Wuhan to contact their family members. The numbers are +8618610952903, +8618612083629 and +8618612083617) and email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for relatives of those willing to reach out to the stranded Indians in Hubei province.
Japan is scheduled to send a plane to rescue its citizens from the region on Tuesday night. Japanese authorities will bar those with symptoms of the coronavirus from boarding the flight, while those who develop them during the journey will be taken to the hospital immediately on arrival in Tokyo.
The US plans to airlift its citizens from the region on Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, China had reported 4,515 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 106 deaths.