The second Air India flight carrying stranded citizens from China's virus-hit Wuhan city landed in New Delhi this morning. India airlifted 323 Indians today from Wuhan as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the deadly coronavirus a global health emergency. The virus has killed more than 300 people and infected over 9,000 in China while two people from Kerala have tested positive for the virus in India.
The second Air India special flight departed at 3:10 am (IST) from Wuhan today and landed at New Delhi airport around 9:45 am.
Seven Maldives citizens were also evacuated on the same plane. "Deep gratitude to PM Narendra Modi and EM Dr S Jaishankar. Special thanks to Ambassadors Vikram Misri and Sunjay Sudhir and their teams," Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahi tweeted.
The first Air India flight, a specially-prepped Boeing 747, brought back 324 Indians stranded in Wuhan on Saturday. Among those who returned were three minors and 211 students.
"The 2nd Air India flight from Wuhan has just taken off for Delhi with 323 Indian citizens on board. 7 Maldives citizens are also being evacuated," tweeted Vikram Misri, the Indian ambassador to China.
He thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and local authorities across Hubei province for their assistance.
The 2nd #AirIndia flight from #Wuhan has just taken off for #Delhi with 323 Indian citizens on board. 7 Maldives citizens are also being evacuated. Grateful once again to @MFA_China and local authorities all across #Hubei for their assistance. @MEAIndia@DrSJaishankar@EOIBeijing— Vikram Misri (@VikramMisri) February 1, 2020
"A special word of appreciation for two of our officers who are on board the plane - Deepak Padmakumar and M Balakrishnan - they showed exemplary fortitude and a real spirit of public service by traveling to ground zero in Wuhan to coordinate airport arrangements. Kudos to both," Mr Misri added.
Four Indians could not board the second flight after they reported high temperatures, Mr Misri told news agency PTI. On Saturday, six Indians could not board the first flight as they were stopped by the Chinese immigration officials after they reported high temperature.
Mr Misri said 25 others stayed back on their accord, adding that there might still be about 100 Indians who remained in Hubei province for which Wuhan is the provincial capital.
As infected passengers pose serious health risk to cabin crew, pilots and the fellow passengers, all the Indians would be thoroughly examined by medical practitioners.
The Indians who were evacuated from Wuhan yesterday have been quarantined in a specially-prepared facility in Manesar near Delhi, the Indian Army, which has mounted a full-fledged operation for this purpose, said.