This Article is From Feb 25, 2020

Finally, Indians On Ship Quarantined Over Coronavirus To Be Evacuated 

The reluctance of some Indians to be repatriated may be the result of the debate that erupted over the evacuation in the same aircraft of corona positive Americans from the ship along with those who tested negative.

Finally, Indians On Ship Quarantined Over Coronavirus To Be Evacuated

The Diamond Princess evacuees are most likely to be quarantined at Manesar

Kolkata:

Last minute details are being put in place to fly home all 122 Indians on board the luxury ship Diamond Princess, quarantined over coronavirus, tomorrow. They will be flown to Delhi and put into quarantine for two weeks. 

There were 138 Indians on board the ship quarantined at Yokohoma in Japan since February 3. In the latest round of tests for the coronavirus, two more Indians tested positive, bringing up the tally of Indians affected on board the ship to 16.

All 16 are in hospital and their condition is reported to be stable and improving.

Of the remaining 122, 120 have given their consent to all the conditions laid down by the government of India for evacuation. When reports last came in, two persons had not agreed to board the chartered flight tomorrow. 

The embassy is counseling them to take the flight as their situation in Japan on their own is likely to be untenable. Hotel accommodation or seats on commercial airlines back to India may be impossible to get, given the Japan government's health protocols ever since Diamond Princess became the site of the biggest corona outbreak after Wuhan in China with over 700 people on board affected.

South Korea has since become the second-worst virus hotbed in the world. 

The reluctance of some Indians to be repatriated may be the result of the debate that erupted over the evacuation in the same aircraft of corona positive Americans from the ship along with those who tested negative. The Centre for Disease Control, the key public health organization there, distanced itself from the decision and even White House was reportedly outraged.

The virus is very infectious and, of equal concern, the fact that several people evacuated from Diamond Princess after testing negative had later tested positive.

The Indian government has put in place a strict protocol for the repatriation. The Indian Embassy in Tokyo has emailed a detailed advisory to all Indians on board on the evacuation process. Around 2 pm Japan time, the Indians - 116 crew and six engineers who were guests on the ship, will be moved into buses provided by the Japanese government and driven to Haneda Airport 23 km away. 

"There will be no toilet facilities on the vehicles that will be used for transportation. And as per Japanese protocol, vehicles will not be allowed to stop anywhere during the journey," the advisory says, adding, "Therefore it is advised that you may use the toilet before disembarking the ship."

All passengers are also advised to eat, effectively before they leave the ship as well as there will be no food provided on the plane either, nor can passengers carry any eatables/preservatives along. The Haneda-Delhi flight is at least 10 hours long. 

Yet another rule for passengers is to carry all valuables as hand baggage. Checked in baggage - two pieces of a maximum of 23 kg each - will also be quarantined and handed over to passengers only after the mandatory two weeks. 

There will also be no in-flight entertainment on the Haneda-Delhi flight. 

The crew and guests flying back to India are beyond caring. They just want to get back on Indian soil into an environment free of the virus. 

A crew member told NDTV, "It has been very difficult to be on board, knowing the virus is out here on the ship somewhere, infecting people. I am so relieved to get out."

The ship has been in quarantine since February 3. The initial quarantine period ended on February 19. But once all the 2,666 passengers got off the ship on February 21, the crew of 1,045 was put into a fresh two week quarantine. 

"Better a quarantine in Indian soil than on board the ship," a crew member said. 

There is no confirmation, but the Diamond Princess evacuees are most likely to be quarantined at Manesar where Indians evacuated from Wuhan had been kept.

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