New Delhi: India on Friday started evacuating its nationals from Wuhan in China in the wake of the deadly novel coronavirus (n-COV) that has led to over 200 deaths and over 9,000 confirmed cases of infection.
The first special flight of Air India, a double-decker Boeing 747 jumbo jet with 15 cabin crew and five cockpit crew, left Mumbai on Friday morning and stopped in New Delhi in between to pick up medicines and other essentials before flying to Wuhan. This jumbo is configured with 423 seats. About 366 Indian nationals will be flown back to India by midnight. A second flight will depart for China on Saturday morning.
A team of five doctors from Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital (RML), a paramedic from Air India with prescribed medicines, masks, overcoats and packed food are travelling to Wuhan in the special flight. A team of engineers, security personnel is also in this special aircraft. The Air India crew will have minimum contact with the passengers being flown in. “Food will be kept in seat pockets. As there will be no service, the-re will be no interaction (between cabin crew and passengers),” an Air India spokesman said. He added masks have been arranged for the crew and passengers. “For our crew, we have also arranged complete protective gear,” he said.
In India, special arrangements have been made to keep the incoming passengers in special quarantine zones. The Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have swiftly created facilities in their camps. While the ITBP facility was set up near Chhawla Camp in New Delhi for the quarantine of approximately 600 people and the Indian Army has created a quarantine facility near Manesar, where 300 people will be monitored for a duration of at least two weeks for signs of coronavirus.
Indian Army officials said screening and quarantine will be a two-step process. “The first one being screening at the airport, followed by the quarantine at Mane-sar, and if any individual is suspected to be infected, he/she will be shifted to the isolation ward at Base Hospital, Delhi Cantonment (BHDC),” said officials. The screening at the airport will be done by a joint team of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) and Airport Health Authority.
Family members can’t meet quarantined students
During the screening, they will be classified into three groups — suspect case, close contact case and non-contact case. Indian Army officials said that the facility consists of accommodation barracks for the students, administrative areas and medical facility area. To prevent any mass outbreak, the facility has been divided into sectors, each with a maximum capacity of 50 students.
The population of these sectors will not be allowed to intermingle with each other, or with outsiders, including their family members.
No civilians or serving personnel detailed working inside the facility will be allowed to go outside unless compelled by an extreme emergency.
“Daily medical examination of all students will be done at the medical facility area and all the staff, health care workers and housekeeping staff must wear their personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times,” said the officials.
PPE consists of mask, eye shield, shoe cover, gown and gloves. Rest of the visitors and all students will wear a three layered mask at all times. After 14 days, persons with no symptoms will be allowed to go home with their detailed documentation.