Twenty-one Indian students, who had been stranded inside the Kunming airport in China for the past three days following the coronavirus outbreak, on Friday morning boarded flight to get back to India. The students are expected to reach India on Friday night.
All students belong to Dalian Medical University in the Dalian Liaoning province in China. Out of the 21 students, 20 are from Kerala and one hails from Tamil Nadu.
According to the family members of the students, they had reached the Kunming airport from Dalian Liaoning on Tuesday and were to fly out to Singapore. But they were left stranded after the Singapore government announced that they will not allow foreign nationals to board their airlines. â€śThey had booked tickets to Singapore and from there to India as there were no direct flights. But on Tuesday, when they were in the airport, the airline officials said that only Singapore nationals will be allowed to board the flight,â€ť Karthika, the sister of a Kollam native student told TNM.
The students were stranded in the airport as they had also been informed by the university officials that they cannot return to the hostel once they leave from there. Family members say that following the coronavirus outbreak, students were asked by the university to stay inside their hostels.
â€śThe region where the university is situated had not been much affected by the outbreak. So, the university was not allowing them to leave from there, but in the past few days coronavirus cases started to get increasingly reported from Dalian Liaoning province as well. Two people in their hospital tested positive for the virus. That is when they decided to leave, but the university had told them that once they are out of their hostels, then they cannot come back. So, when they could not board the flight, they got stranded inside the airport,â€ť Karthika said.
With the help of officials from Non-Residents Keralites Affair (NORKA), the students were allowed to stay inside a coffee shop in the airport for the past three days.
It was only after families of the students got in touch with officials from the Ministry of External Affairs that measures were taken to get the students booked on a flight to Bangkok.
â€śV Muraleedharan, Union Minister for State for External Affairs, had contacted the students. And it was following his assurance that the students booked tickets to Bangkok. From there they will board a flight to Nedumbassery in Kochi. They are expected to reach at 11 pm on Friday,â€ť said Karthika.
Meanwhile, the families also said that students may not be quarantined at the facility in Delhi as their flight is to Kochi from Bangkok.
Earlier, Indian government had airlifted 654 people, including students from Wuhan City of Hubei Province in China, the epicentre of the outbreak, in special chartered flights. All of them are under quarantine in two facilities near Delhi.