India on Thursday said it would sent an aircraft with medical supplies to China amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. On its way back, the aircraft will bring back the Indians who could not be evacuated in the first two flights from Wuhan city, the epicenter of the outbreak, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
“Subject to capacity limitations, we will accommodate other nationalities as well,” ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press briefing in Delhi. He said the government had decided to send supplies as a way to express support to China to fight the epidemic. Kumar said that there was no ban on travel to or from China.
Kumar also said eight Indians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus on board a British cruise ship quarantined near the port city of Yokohama in Japan. They are being treated at the local hospital and their condition is improving, he said.
The ministry said the Indian embassy was closely monitoring the situation and disembarkation process has started and will continue for a few days. “Crew would be last to disembark,” Kumar added. “They would be kept under quarantine for 14 more days.”
The British-flagged Diamond Princess arrived in Yokohama on February 3 with about 3,700 people onboard after the virus was diagnosed in a man who disembarked last month in Hong Kong. Japan’s health ministry on Thursday said 13 more people tested positive for the coronavirus strain known as COVID-19 on the ship, AFP reported. With this, 634 passengers have tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, national carrier Air India announced that it was extending the suspension of its flights on routes to China till June 30, PTI reported. Last month, the airline had suspended its six weekly Delhi to Shanghai flights from January 31 to February 14. However, flight operations were not restarted from February 15.
“Flight operations on both routes – Delhi-Shanghai and Delhi-Hong Kong – have been suspended till June 30,” an Air India spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, China reported the lowest number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus since late January. The country had 394 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, the National Health Commission said. This was sharply down from 1,749 cases a day earlier and the lowest since January 23.