An advisory sent to those on board states those who opt for the flight will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in India.

Indians onboard cruise ship Diamond Princess to be flown back on Feb 26
news Coronavirus Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 15:16

Indians onboard cruise ship Diamond Princess will be repatriated by the Indian government on February 26, and a chartered flight is being sent for them. In an email advisory to those onboard, the Indian embassy in Tokyo said that they would be allowed on the flight if they do not test positive in the test conducted by Japanese authorities, and that they consent to return to India “before the expiry of mandatory Japanese quarantine requirements”.

“Embassy of India, Tokyo had sent consent form to all Indian nationals on-board Diamond Princess on 17 February 2020. All those who have not yet responded may still give their consent by sending the duly filled form to fscons.tokyo@mea.gov.in by 1000 hrs of 26 February 2020,” the Embassy said in the advisory, which TNM has accessed. 

The chartered flight is scheduled for 1400 hrs (2 pm) on February 26.

The advisory states that those who opt for the flight will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in India.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, the Embassy said: “A chartered flight is being arranged to repatriate Indian nationals onboard #DiamondPrincess, provided they have   (a) consented; (b) not tested positive for #COVID19; (c) cleared by the medical team. An email advisory to this effect, with details, has been sent to them.”

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. Two more Indian crew members tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number to 14, the embassy said on Monday, adding that all of them were responding well to the treatment.

"PCR test results announced, from the samples collected earlier, included 2 Indian crew members on board Diamond Princess, testing positive for COVID-19. Total number of crew members tested positive so far is 14- responding well to treatment," the embassy tweeted on Monday.

Passengers showing no signs of the deadly disease started deboarding the ship after the quarantine period ended last week. Over 1,000 passengers and crew still remain on board the ship after the disembarkation. The ship was quarantined after a passenger who disembarked last month in Hong Kong was found to be a carrier of the disease.

Four people who were hospitalised after being taken off the ship have died, the latest a man in his 80s, according to local media. The Yomiuri Shimbun daily said the man had tested positive for the new coronavirus and died of pneumonia. The health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports.

Three others, all Japanese, have so far died after becoming sick on the ship. Two were confirmed to have the new coronavirus, while the health ministry declined to comment on the diagnosis of the third.

Japan has come under increasing pressure over its handling of the ship, particularly after it emerged that some passengers allowed to disembark after testing negative were subsequently diagnosed with the virus. Some of the disembarking passengers were not even tested during the quarantine period, the health ministry has acknowledged.

Several government officials working on the ship have themselves contracted the infection, but authorities have defended a policy of not uniformly testing those working on the boat. "We are aware of the risks of them getting infected when they take off a mask or gloves, so we will have thorough measures to prevent infections under these circumstances," Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said, while stressing no change in policy was planned.

Many nations have evacuated their citizens from the ship already. 450 Filipinos due to be flown home on Tuesday on two chartered flights. Another 81 who have tested positive for the virus will stay in Japan.

Seventy-one new coronavirus deaths were reported from China, the epicentre of the disease, taking the total number of casualties to 2,663, while the confirmed cases rose to 77,658.

With PTI inputs

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