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Coronavirus scare: Govt formally requests China to start evacuating Indians from Wuhan


New Delhi, Jan 28: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said the central government is planning to send a plane to Wuhan in China to evacuate Indians.

New Delhi has already begun preparations to evacuate its nationals affected by the situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak in China's Hubei Province, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

In a statement later, the Health Ministry said the Centre has made a formal request to China to facilitate the evacuation of Indians from Wuhan.

Flag carrier Air India has kept one of its 423-seater jumbo plane ready in Mumbai for the evacuation, an official source said.

Coronavirus outbreak: China urges citizens to delay foreign travel over virus fearsCoronavirus outbreak: China urges citizens to delay foreign travel over virus fears

Jaishankar, a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat who is on a two-day visit to Kevadiya, the site of the Statue of Unity, said no student from India has been found to be affected by the virus till date.

"The Indian Embassy is in constant touch with the Chinese government. To evacuate students and other Indians from Wuhan, we are planning to send a plane there. Our efforts are on to bring them back. It will take some days. I urge people to trust the government on this," said Jaishankar.

"No Indian student has been found to be affected by this virus. Parents need not worry about their children," he added.

Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar earlier on Tuesday said the Indian Embassy in Beijing is in touch with the Chinese government, authorities and nationals on the matter.

"We have begun the process to prepare for evacuation of Indian nationals affected by the situation arising out of nCorona-2019 virus outbreak in Hubei Province, China," he said in a tweet.

"Our Embassy in Beijing is working out the logistics and is in touch with the Chinese government authorities and our nationals on this matter. We will continue to share updates," Kumar added.

The toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak in China has soared to 106 while nearly 1,300 new cases have been confirmed. Those coming from China are being screened for symptoms of the virus.

The coronavirus is a new type of pneumonia, officially being described as 2019-nCoV. Wuhan and 17 others cities in Hubei Province remained the epicentre of the outbreak with most of the deaths having taken place there.

Over 250 to 300 Indian students are reportedly stuck in Wuhan triggering concerns over their well-being.

On Monday, a meeting, which was chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, reviewed India's preparedness to deal with the virus amid mounting global concern over increasing number of cases in China and several other countries.

In India, no case has been detected so far though nearly 450 people have been kept under observation in the country, most of them in Kerala, following screening for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Some who returned from China in recent weeks have approached medical authorities as a precautionary step.

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