An Air India flight from Delhi to Moscow had to return midway on Saturday, after the airline’s ground team found that one of the pilots had tested positive for the coronavirus, PTI reported. The flight’s crew members have been placed under quarantine.

Unidentified senior airline officials told the news agency that the A320 plane did not have any passengers and was heading to Moscow to bring back stranded Indians, as part of the Vande Bharat Mission.

They said that when the flight reached Uzbekistan’s airspace, their team on ground found out that one of the pilots had tested positive for Covid-19. “The flight was immediately asked to return. It came back to Delhi around 12.30 pm on Saturday,” an official said. The flight had taken off from Delhi after 7 am.

Officials said that another plane will be sent to Moscow to bring back the stranded Indians. Pilots are tested for the coronavirus before they board a flight. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has ordered an investigation into the “lapse”, NDTV reported. The DGCA said “prima facie, this appears to be a lapse”, since the pilot was not supposed to be on the flight if he was found to be Covid-19 positive, unidentified sources told the news network.

The Centre launched the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 to bring back stranded Indians during the coronavirus pandemic. Over 45,000 Indians have returned so far, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, adding that one lakh more Indians are expected to be flown in till June 13.

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