More Indians to be evacuated from Wuhan; 1 more Indian tests positive for COVID-19 in Japan

More Indians to be evacuated from Wuhan; 1 more Indian tests positive for COVID-19 in Japan
The cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 16, 2020. Reuters

Tokyo/New Delhi: One more Indian aboard a quarantined cruise ship off Japan was tested positive for the novel coronavirus and shifted to hospital, taking the number of Indian nationals infected with the virus on the vessel to eight, the Indian embassy said on Thursday.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on February 3 with 3,711 passengers and crew on board, 621 people were found to be infected with the deadly coronavirus after it was diagnosed in a man who disembarked last month in Hong Kong.

A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people on board the ship.

In a tweet, the Indian embassy here said, "1 Indian crew who tested positive for #COVID19 among 79 new cases on #DiamondPrincess yesterday too has been shifted to hospital for treatment. All 8 Indians receiving treatment are responding well. Rest all Indians on-board are braving out the trying circumstances."

Earlier, seven Indians were tested positive for the COVID-19.

The mission said that infected Indians were responding well to the treatment.

Meanwhile, some of the passengers with no infection began leaving the ship on Wednesday after the end of a two-week quarantine period that failed to stop the spread of the virus among passengers and crew.

"About 500 more passengers began disembarking on Thursday while another 100 people were to leave for chartered flights home," a health ministry official was quoted as saying by the Japan Today newspaper.

An initial batch of passengers who had tested negative and shown no symptoms left the vessel on Wednesday, the report said.

The Indian embassy earlier said it was making efforts for de-boarding of all the Indians from the ship after the end of the quarantine period and was in discussions with the Japanese government and the ship management company for the disembarkation modalities and welfare of the Indians.

China, where the virus outbreak occurred, is grappling to contain the deadly disease as the number of deaths climbed to to 2,118 on Thursday with the death of 114 more people, mostly in the worst-hit Hubei province.

The virus outbreak originated in China's Hubei province in December and has spread to more than 25 countries, including India. Many countries have banned arrivals from China while major airlines have suspended flights to the country.

100 Indians to be brought back from Wuhan

The aircraft India is sending to Wuhan with medical supplies will evacuate about 100 Indians from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the advisories regarding travel to and from China remain in place, but there was no ban on travel.

India is set to send a C-17 military transport aircraft to Wuhan to evacuate more Indians and deliver a consignment of medical supplies. India is awaiting clearance from the Chinese side.

"Those interested to come back have been asked to contact the embassy... subject to capacity limitations and other logistics, we will accommodate nationals of other countries as well," Kumar said at a media briefing here.

He said about 100 Indians will be brought back on the aircraft and the exercise of compiling the names is still on.

"We are monitoring the welfare of Indian nationals (in China) on a regular basis. We have advised the people in Wuhan and the Hubei province to take precautions and follow instructions of local authorities," Kumar said.

"You are aware that the government of India has decided to send an aircraft, a consignment of medical supplies on a relief flight to Wuhan and this is just a token way to express support to China as it continues its fight against the epidemic," he said.

India's national carrier Air India earlier this month evacuated over 640 Indians from Wuhan in two separate flights.

On the return flight, the aircraft will bring in Indian nationals who could not board the first two flights, Kumar said.

Asked about details of the medical supplies to China, Kumar said India has always been the first responder for its neighbours and friends in times of crisis and it was in that spirit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered assistance to China in a letter he wrote to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"We are ready to dispatch the relief package as our token of support to China as they fight this outbreak. We are actually awaiting to get clearance to come from the government of China. So the moment the clearance comes, the relief flight will take off," he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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