India was preparing to evacuate its citizens on Friday from China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus that has killed 170 people, infected 7,711 others and spread to at least 17 countries.
India earlier requested China for permission to operate two flights to bring back its nationals from worst-affected central Hubei province. Wuhan is the provincial capital of Hubei.
In a big relief for Indians - mostly students and professionals - stranded in Wuhan, the Indian Embassy in a note circulated through social media on Thursday said that preparations are on to evacuate them from the virus-hit region.
"We are preparing for air evacuation from Wuhan tomorrow in the evening. This flight will carry those Indian nationals who are in and around Wuhan and have conveyed consent for their evacuation," the note said.
"There will be another flight subsequently which will carry those who are from other parts of Hubei province," it added.
The Indian government and the Indian Embassy in Beijing have been collecting requisite details of the stranded Indians and held talks with the Chinese Foreign Ministry to work out the modalities for their evacuation.
The exact number of Indians stranded in Hubei has not yet been revealed.
"Please note that these details are tentative and are being shared with you so that you are adequately prepared," the note said.
"We would request your understanding and cooperation. Our intention is to ensure that all those who have expressed consent to avail this facility are safely returned to India. We will shortly update you and send further instructions, it said.
According to reports, an Air India 747 Boeing has been kept ready to fly them back to India.
The embassy has already informed the stranded Indians that upon their arrival in India they need to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a designated city, the name of which has not yet been revealed.
The quarantine was necessary as experts say the incubation period of the new virus was on average three to seven days, with the longest being 14 days.
The Indian embassy has opened three hotlines to help the Indians in Wuhan to cope with the crisis.
Besides India, several other countries including the US, France, Japan, South Korea, are airlifting their nationals from Wuhan.
A large number of people from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh from the neighbourhood besides African countries were also reportedly stranded in Hubei province.
The nationwide death toll from the novel coronavirus has jumped to 170 with 38 more fatalities reported mainly from Hubei province, the government said on Thursday, while confirming more than 1,700 new infections.
China's National Health Commission said on Thursday that 7,711 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions and in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps by the end of Wednesday.