Coronavirus: India will send third flight to Wuhan to evacuate 100 more

India will be sending a third flight to Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Hubei province of China, to evacuate nearly 100 Indian citizens.

The country had recently evacuated over 640 of its citizens from Wuhan. Yet, an unknown number of Indians remain in the area and their number is being ascertained, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said on Thursday. India is also awaiting a go-ahead from Japan to evacuate its 132 citizens onboard the luxury cruise liner 'Diamond Princess', which is docked off the coast of Japan with hundreds of positive cases of coronavirus infection.

However, officials at the department of overseas affairs said no guidelines for the thousands of Indians living in China are planned yet, more than a month after the crisis broke out. The Indian Embassy in Beijing estimates more than 50,000 Indian citizens to have been working in mainland China as of early 2019. The MEA also clarified it is not planning to issue a travel advisory against visiting the country.

 There are also no clear guidelines for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders. Erring on the side of caution, airport and immigration officials in other countries are not allowing OCI cardholders to travel to India, even though the Indian notification on coronavirus only mentions invalidating e-visas. As a result, families stuck in transit have been hit the hardest. India also said it is ready to send a flight carrying relief items to China but is yet to receive clearance from Beijing.

There have also been cases of people getting stranded because of lack of clarity regarding the visa rules following the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

The health ministry had cautioned people visiting China to strictly avoid locals with signs of fever, besides suggesting other preventive tactics as early as January 11.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel