Six Indians who were wanting to return to India, by Air India’s first flight which had gone to Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus, were stopped from boarding the aircraft due to ill health and weak condition.
All the six displayed above normal or fluctuating temperatures during the screening and were asked to step aside from the immigration line. They comprised four students and two trainees from a Shenzhen-based Chinese electronics company. They were whisked away in local government vehicles to their campuses for displaying, what local authorities felt, could be symptoms of the virulent disease. They were told their return to India would be indefinitely postponed.
A message from the Indian embassy on Saturday said “Embassy has formally taken up the issue with Chinese authorities and have requested that adequate and proper health care support is provided to those who have been asked to remain in China till further notice. We request you to follow the advice given by the Chinese authorities so that your health returns to normal at the earliest,” the message said.
In another development, India’s first coronavirus-infected patient, who returned to Kerala from China last week, was stated to be recovering fast and no fresh cases were reported. The patient, admitted in an isolation ward in Thrissur medical college hospital for the last two days, is responding well to treatment, said a medical bulletin.
The girl student left Wuhan after its airport was closed down and travelled to Kunming, the nearest city, to take a flight to Kolkata. Four other students who travelled with her are also under observation. She cleared the screening with thermal imaging at both Kolkata and Kochi airports and developed symptoms of flu and throat pain only on Jan 27, following which she was rushed to an isolation ward at the general hospital. The Kerala health authorities have also tracked 58 persons who came in direct contact with the infected woman and have kept them under surveillance. The Kerala health department has set up 61 isolation wards in which at least 1600 people are under observation and 30 have been admitted to different hospitals.
In Maharashtra, of 12 patients (5 each in Mumbai and Pune, and one each in Nagpur and Nanded), tested the reports of 9 patients have turned out negative and the reports if three were awaited. Three girl students from Khed, (Ratnagiri, Maharashtra) studying in China, were stated to be safe.
In Goa, two more foreign nationals who arrived in Goa from China, have been quarantined at the Goa Medical College and Hospital after developing flu-like symptoms. Medical college dean Dr S M Bandekar said they will be kept under observation until their samples sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune are tested. Prior to this, a Serbian national was quarantined at the special ward set up at the hospital but was later discharged after found to have not contracted the deadly virus. Passengers at the Goa International Airport are being screened and asked to declare if they have travelled to China recently and if so, they will be further screened for symptoms and quarantined.
On Saturday, the Telangana government said that 11 of the 18 samples tested for the coronavirus, turned out to be negative and results of 7 were awaited.
In yet another development, “IndiGo” said that it will suspend flights on Kolkata-Guangzhou route from Feb 6 to 25, 2020, due to “coronavirus”.. On Wednesday, the low-cost carrier had announced suspension of flights on Bengaluru-Hong Kong and Delhi-Chengdu route till 29 February. “In line with the WHO guideline to contain the spread of the disease, “IndiGo” will be suspending its Kolkata-Guangzhou flights from February 6, 2020 until February 25, 2020 and Guangzhou-Kolkata from February 7, 2020 until February 26, 2020,” the airline said in a statement on Saturday and added that “These are purely temporary and precautionary measures”.
While 324 returned to India on Saturday morning, the second Air India flight reached Wuhan on Saturday evening to pick up the rest of the Indians from Hubei province of which Wuhan is the provincial capital.
On Saturday, Chinese health authorities announced that the death toll has risen to 259 with total confirmed cases increasing to 11,791, the biggest increase since China began reporting the spread of the virulent virus on January 21.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]