- Flights from European Union nations banned since March 18
- India's count of COVID-19 infections has crossed the 250-mark
- Italy has reported maximum COVID-19 deaths in the world
A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Amsterdam-Delhi flight with 90 Indians on board was forced to return on Friday amid scare over coronavirus or COVID-19 after civilian aviation authorities in India made it clear that it would not be permitted to land, sources have told NDTV. The KLM fight - KL0871- did not have an approved flight plan, according to officials in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
An airline has to file a plan, get it approved to mount a flight. But in India's case, flights from the European Union nations are already banned since March 18. The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines violated the guidelines by operating the Amsterdam-Delhi flight on Friday, said sources.
Earlier this week, India had extended travel ban to the European Union nations as coronavirus cases rose sharply in Italy, Spain among other countries. Italy has reported maximum COVID-19 deaths in the world (3,407), surpassing death count (3,254) in China, where the highly contagious illness originated about three months ago.
About 90 Indians - many of whom had sent anxious messages with a hope to return home - were on board the plane.
Sunday onwards, no international flights will be allowed to land in India for a week, the government said on Thursday as it escalated measures to fight coronavirus.
"No scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft shall take off from any foreign airport to land in India, from March 22, 2020 (05:30 hrs IST). These instructions shall remain in force till March 29, 2020," reads a circular by the DGCA.
India's count of number of COVID-19 infections has crossed the 250-mark. The country recorded biggest jump in number of coronavirus cases on Friday with 63 fresh cases. Four people have died in different parts of the country - Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab.
In a televised address on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for social distancing, urging people to avoid stepping out of homes "unless absolutely necessary".
Worldwide, over 2.5 lakh have contracted the infection, over 8,000 have died due to COVID-19, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.