India is likely to send a military transport aircraft to the coronavirus-hit Wuhan on February 26 to deliver relief material and bring back more Indians following a clearance from China, Union Health ministry officials said on Monday.
"As informed by the Ministry of External Affairs, departure of the Air Force flight to Wuhan is being planned for February 26 and the evacuees will arrive on February 27," the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier, official sources had said that the neighbouring country was delaying clearance to the C-17 military transport aircraft which was to fly on February 20 to Wuhan, though Beijing had allowed fights from other countries to evacuate their nationals.
According to a health ministry official, China has now given clearance to the Indian military transport aircraft.
Official sources said Japan, Ukraine and France have been allowed to operate flights between February 16 and 20 but India's request had not been approved.
When contacted, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson had said there was no deliberate delay in grant of permission for the Indian flight to reach Wuhan.
The aircraft will carry a large consignment of medical supplies to China and bring back more Indians from Wuhan.
Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan, who undertook a review of the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID19) management across the country with the senior officials of the Ministry, informed that at present the screening of passengers is being done in all 21 airports, 12 major and 65 non-major seaports and border crossings.
In all, 4,48,449 passengers from 4,214 flights have been screened so far.
Also, as of now, 2,707 samples have been tested of which only three samples earlier had tested positive (Kerala) and all the three patients have been discharged from the hospitals. They are now in home isolation.
In furtherance to the travel advisory issued earlier in the wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the government on Saturday advised citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Singapore.
Also flight passengers coming to India from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Kathmandu, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia are being screened at 21 designated airports in the country for a possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.
All Indian evacuees from Wuhan had tested negative for COVID19 and have gone back to their homes from the quarantine facilities. Also, 23,259 persons were brought under community surveillance in 34 states and UTs through the Integrated Diseases Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network.
Regarding movement across Kartarpur border in Punjab, Vardhan was informed that in discussion with the Home Ministry, Health Ministry and Health Secretary, Punjab, special screening has been strengthened across the border and further necessary facilitation for masks to be worn by pilgrims is being initiated.
Meanwhile, two more Indian crew members on board a cruise ship moored off the Japan coast have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of infected Indians on the vessel to 14, the Indian embassy in Tokyo said on Monday.
The mission also expressed hope that the last groups of results expected to be announced on Tuesday and Wednesday will not have any more Indian nationals included in it.
A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people, on board the Diamond Princess ship when it docked at the Yokohama port, near Tokyo, on February 3.
It was quarantined after a passenger who disembarked last month in Hong Kong was found to be the carrier of the disease.
"PCR test results announced today, from the samples collected earlier, included 02 Indian crew members, onboard #DiamondPrincess, testing positive for #COVID?19. Total number of Indian crew members tested positive so far is 14 - responding well to treatment," the embassy tweeted on Monday.
The embassy "hopes that the last groups of results expected to be announced tomorrow and day-after will not have any more Indian nationals included in it, enabling the Embassy to further facilitate Indian nationals onboard the shipâ€ť, it added.
On Sunday, the mission said 12 Indians, who were earlier tested positive for the COVID-19, are responding well to treatment.
The ship has the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside China. Two former passengers of the ship have also died.